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Friday Apr 10 2020

British-Pakistani mother makes appeal after losing son to coronavirus

LONDON: The Pakistani family of a 33-year-old Uber driver is devastated after the union activist and cab driver lost life to coronavirus at the St George’s Hospital in South London.

Following the incident, the heart-broken mother has appealed to everyone to exercise social distancing and isolation to save lives of others.

Ayub Akhtar, whose parents originate from Chekswari in Azad Kashmir Dadyal area, had complained to his family that he contracted the deadly Corona virus from a female passenger he picked in first week of March in London.

Two years ago, Ayub Akhtar had joined a group of private hire drivers to protest against congestion charges and other restrictions imposed by Mayor of London and Transport of London. Ayuab Akhtar was a dedicated humanist and union activist who cared for rights of others and believed in campaigning. spoke to brother and mother of Ayub Akhtar and they said the family had been 'cut into pieces' at the tragic death of 'beloved'Ayub Akhtar.

His brother Yasser Akhtar told that Ayub began coughing and having breathing problems shortly after picking up the female passenger in first week of March. He feared that he had picked up the virus from the passenger who was coughing throughout the journey in the car.

The journey lasted for about 40 minutes. He worked for several private hire companies such as Uber, Kapten and Bolt and continued to pick up customers. Few days later he began to show severe symptoms of COVID-19.

Photo by reporter

Yasser said: “My brother picked up this passenger in his Prius. He went into self-isolation on 10th of March when he started feeling cold the whole time and coughed all the time. He was unable to sleep the whole night and his pain was unbearable for him and for rest of the family.”

When Ayub’s condition didn’t improve and breathing became almost impossible for him, his sister called the NHS hotline 111 and he was taken to hospital where he spent 16 days in intensive care. The paramedics first took him to the Mayday Hospital in Croydon and transferred to St. George’s Hospital, Tooting, where the intensive care unit is considered modern.

Yasser said that his brother’s condition became so bad in the hospital that he was put in medically induced coma. “He told us through text messages that he was not getting better. These wards are very lonely and you can imagine how contagious this disease is. There was no visitation allowed.”

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Ayub’s mother said that it was most painful for her as a mother to hear from the nurse over the phone that my son has a few hours to live. “I have lost my son to corona and the saddest bit is I didn’t get to see him in his last moments. He was a loving son who loved his family. We are in a terrible situation.”

The heart-broken mother said that Ayub’s temperature didn’t come down at anytime in three weeks. “The medics said initially that he’s a young lad and he will get better but it became clear his situation didn’t improve a bit and he died in coma. I was so hopeful that my son will fight back and survive. I am thinking of all other families of this world have lost their loved ones to Corona. Our prayers are with them and we send our love and condolences to them. This virus and the pain it has inflicted indiscriminately should united humanity.”

Ayub’s mother, 53, also contracted coronavirus but recovered in two weeks. “I got the mild virus but my son got the harshest one. He was sweating all the time and that’s very high risk.”

The mother appealed to everyone to be cautious and listen to the advice of health officials. “My son would still be alive if he has not come into contact with another corona patient in the car. This virus has no boundaries and its silent. As a mother, I appeal to everyone not to go out and not meet others. Don’t use taxis. Don’t use public transport and don’t meet each other. Stop wherever you are and don’t bring danger to others.”

Yasser Akhtar paid tribute to the NHS workers for treating his brother to their best abilities.

Yaseen Aslam, head of the United Private Hire Drivers association, said that Ayub was a dedicated man who cared for others and would love to help those in need. He said that cab drivers faced real risks because its impossible for them to keep a social distance of more than 2 feet, let alone 2 metres.

He said: “We campaigned for better safety for drivers and wanted more rights for drivers and Ayub was always there with us. We will miss him terribly.”