LONDON 

British transport police launched an investigation on Tuesday after a London railway ticket officer died of coronavirus after being deliberately spat on while on duty.

The victim was Belly Mujinga, 47, who was working at Victoria Station in southwest London when a member of the public, who claimed to have coronavirus, spat and coughed on her and another colleague on March 22. Within days, both women fell ill.

Lusamba Gode Katalay, her husband, said: “The man asked her what she was doing, why she was there, and she said they were working. The man said he had the virus and spat on them. They reported it to their supervisor.”

Mujinga had underlying respiratory problems, and was put on a ventilator after being admitted to hospital on April 2.

“That was the last time I saw her. We just said: ‘Be good,’ and that God is in charge,” her husband said.

Mujinga died on April 5. Originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, she moved to the UK in 2000.

“She was a good person, a good mother, and a good wife,” her husband said. “She gave her friendship to many people. She was a caring person and would take care of everybody.”

The TSSA union, which represents workers in the UK’s transport and travel industries, reported the incident to the Railways Inspectorate and is taking legal advice.

Manuel Cortes, the union’s general secretary, said: “The health secretary, Matt Hancock, recently announced that £60,000 [$74,000] would be paid to the survivors of health and care workers who die as a result of the pandemic. Our view is that this compensation should be extended to the families of all frontline workers who perish trying to keep our country and vital services going.”

He added about Mujinga’s passing: “There are serious questions about her death; it wasn’t inevitable.

“As a vulnerable person in the ‘at risk’ category, and her condition known to her employer, there are questions about why she wasn’t stood down from frontline duties early on in this pandemic…

“Anyone who is vulnerable should remain at home, and home working should be the default wherever possible.”

The British Transport Police announced it had launched an investigation into the spitting incident and asked for anyone with information to contact them.

After originating in China last December, COVID-19 has spread to at least 187 countries and regions. Europe and the US are currently the worst-hit regions.

The pandemic has killed some 287,000 worldwide, with total infections of 4.2 million, with recoveries of around 1.47 million, according to figures compiled by the US’ Johns Hopkins University

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