Family of Britain’s youngest coronavirus victim, 13, cannot attend funeral after being forced into isolation because his brother and sister are showing symptoms of the disease
- Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab, from Brixton, died alone in hospital on Monday
- Mother and six siblings are now in self-isolation after two of them had symptoms
- This means they will not be able to attend his funeral when it takes place today
The family of Britain’s youngest coronavirus victim will not be able to attend his funeral today because they are in self-isolation after his brother and sister developed symptoms.
Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab, from Brixton, south London, died alone at King’s College Hospital in the early hours of Monday.
His brother and sister have now developed mild symptoms of coronavirus, so his mother and six symptoms will be forced to miss his funeral in Brixton this afternoon.
Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab, 13, died alone at King’s College Hospital in London on Monday
Family friend Mark Stephenson, who set up an appeal on GoFundMe for the family, said Ismail’s younger brother and older sister have developed mild symptoms including a temperature and loss of taste.
Mr Stephenson said: ‘Shaykh Sharif Zain will be leading the funeral and I will be delivering a short speech for the Abdulwahab family and a few close family and friends.
‘We hope that we can send a live stream of the funeral to his mother and siblings so they can be there remotely, but they are obviously devastated that they can’t be there in person again.
‘It’s extremely upsetting for everyone involved, but they have been very moved by the warmth and very positive messages of support from people following their appeal.’
Ismail, who had no apparent underlying health conditions, was described by his family as a ‘gentle and kind’ boy with a ‘heartwarming’ smile.
He tested positive for Covid-19 last Friday, a day after he was admitted to King’s College Hospital.
Ismail’s family paid a heartbreaking tribute to him on a GoFundMe page to raise money for his funeral expenses
Ismail died on Monday at 3am after his lungs failed and he had a cardiac arrest.
On Wednesday, the NHS confirmed a 13-year-old with no known underlying health condition was among patients who had died after testing positive for Covid-19.
Mr Stephenson, college director at the Madinah College where Ismail’s sister works, set up the GoFundMe page to raise money for funeral costs and for the family, who also lost Ismail’s father to cancer.
By this morning more than £67,000 had been raised, far exceeding the £4,000 target.
Up to 100 mourners including Labour MP ignore coronavirus lockdown rules to attend funeral as police chief slams gathering for ‘endangering lives’
By Darren Boyle for MailOnline
Police were called after reports that up to 100 mourners – including a Labour MP – turned up at a cemetery for a funeral despite the coronavirus lockdown.
Officers were alerted by worried staff after a large crowd gathered at the gates of Sutton New Hall Cemetery in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, on Wednesday.
Birmingham Hall Green’s Labour MP Tahir Ali confirmed he had joined in prayers at at the ceremony – one of TWO he attended that day – and blasted the restrictions limiting funeral numbers.
Police were called to a funeral attended by a Labour MP In Birmingham after they were told a large group of mourners had turned up to the service in Sutton Coldfield on Wednesday
Labour MP Tahir Ali, pictured, said he attended two funerals as an ‘observer’ and said authorities should reduce restrictions as long as mourners adhere to social distancing guidelines
Mr Ali said he is also planning to attend more funerals around his constituency over the coming days.
However, is appearance at the funeral has been condemned by the area’s Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson.
Funerals during Covid-19 lockdown
According to newly-released government guidelines the number of mourners should be restricted to allow a safe distance of at least two metres between mourners.
Only the following people should attend the service:
- members of the person’s household
- close family members
- if the deceased has neither household or family members in attendance, then it is possible for a modest number friends to attend
- mourners should also follow the advice on social distancing when travelling to and from the funeral gathering.
The following people should not attend funerals under any circumstances:
- individuals who have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), or who are part of a household where someone has symptoms, or who are vulnerable to severe infection should not participate in rituals or religious gatherings
- mourners should not take part in rituals or practices that bring them into close contact with the body. Contact with the body should be restricted to those who are wearing PPE and have been trained in the appropriate use of PPE
He said: ‘Mr Ali has been totally irresponsible and is letting his constituents down. He should be setting an example. He very clearly isn’t. He is not serving his constituents by endangering their lives. He is undermining the work of the police.’
The number in attendance was understood to have been between 80 and 100, although most attendees dispersed after saying funeral prayers.
West Midlands Police confirmed they were alerted to reports of a large crowd but officers found 15 mourners in family groups observing social distance rules and no action was taken.
Cemetery staff raised the alarm after seeing the size of the gathering amid fears about infection risks.
Only six mourners are now permitted at any funeral in Birmingham under Covid-19 restrictions.
Today Mr Ali, elected in December to the safe Labour seat, said he was there to ‘observe’ after being contacted by the distressed family, who he knew well.
He said he joined in funeral prayers outside the cemetery and then ‘left immediately.’
He said it was one of two funerals he had attended that day – the other with around 20 mourners at a ceremony in Sandwell – as part of moves to gather information to call for a relaxation in funeral rules to help distressed families.
Mr Ali, who is also still a city councillor representing Nechells, said he also intended to attend funerals in Walsall, Dudley and Wolverhampton in the coming days to do more ‘observations’.
He is calling for more people to be allowed to mourn together in the city, as long as they observe social distancing rules.
West Midlands Police arrived at the cemetery but found that social distancing guidelines were still being adhered to as the mourners congregating together all came from the same households
He said it was otherwise putting large families in the city in a horrendous situation.
In response, the city’s housing and neighbourhoods cabinet member Cllr Sharon Thompson, who oversees bereavement services, said: ‘We are clear that the fewer people there are at funerals will, we hope, help us see fewer funerals.
‘There are restrictions in place for one reason – to try to keep people safe and reduce infection.
‘I appreciate some will not agree but my priority is to keep people safe and save lives.
‘None of this is easy. It is a very difficult time and we absolutely understand the distress of families affected by loss.’
One anxious mourner said they had no idea so many people would be in attendance at the Sutton Coldfield funeral, but they had been urged to attend to pay their respects.
They said: ‘We were shocked when we turned up. There were around 80 or more people, all stood together.
‘Groups of six at a time were going into the cemetery to pay their respects. It did not feel as if people understood we were in a lockdown.’
He added that he was surprised to see Mr Ali there, as an MP for the city.
One witness said they were surprised they saw Mr Ali among the mourners at the funeral
The witness said: ‘I would have thought he would set an example. It didn’t seem right.’
Mr Ali’s fellow city councillor Majid Mahmood (Lab, Bromford and Hodge Hill) is also calling for a relaxation in funeral attendance numbers, calling for a maximum of 20 attendees to be allowed to attend.
He has written to city council leaders calling for the number to be increased.
Mr Ali today defended his attendance at the gathering, which is in clear contravention of rules around mass gatherings, social isolation and essential travel.
Mr Ali said he was contacted by a family he knew well who asked if there could be any flexibility around numbers allowed at the cemetery, as they had a very large family.
Mr Ali said: ‘In other council areas many more people are allowed to attend. In Luton, Bradford, other councils, more are permitted, up to 20.
‘Yet here in Birmingham the number is restricted to six.
‘Families are very distressed. They are already unable to visit their loved ones in hospital and then there are limited numbers at funerals.
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