Funeral of Siparia father, son who died of covid19 set for Saturday

 Mahindra Nigel Ramkalawan and his father Premnath
Mahindra Nigel Ramkalawan and his father Premnath

Thirty-eight-year-old Mahindra Nigel Ramkalawan and his father Premnath, 66, who died hours apart from covid19, are expected to be cremated at a funeral home in San Fernando on Saturday.

Their immediate family is in home quarantine and will not be allowed to attend the funeral, which is set for midday.

Instead, the bereaved Siparia family will attend virtually.

Ramkalawan’s sister-in-law Verlenie Dass-Ramkalawan, 28, told Newsday on Friday by phone, "Staff members from the funeral home confirmed that only five people, who tested negative for the virus, can attend.

"People are doing the arrangements for us. One cremation would be at noon, and the other at 2 pm. I am not sure of the exact details. I know the family is paying for everything. Afterward, we would go through the process of getting grants."

Ramkalawan, who worked at the Kenson Group of Companies, died on Wednesday afternoon. His father, a pensioner, died on early Thursday.

They lived in the same house at Murray Trace. Ramkalawan did not have any children. Premnath was the father of two and grandfather of two.

Also living in the house are Ramkalawan’s mother, Sumentra, 56, brother Andy, 29, and his wife (Dass-Ramkalawan) and their two children, one and two.

Sumentra, Dass-Ramkalawan, and her one-year-old daughter have covid19. Up to Friday, the family was awaiting the results for Andy and Dass-Ramkalawan's two-year-old son.

But Dass-Ramkalawan said South-West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) officials called them on Friday.

"SWRHA officials said most likely my husband and our son are positive too because they are in prime contact with us," she said. "They also asked for a report of what happened, including the issues we had waiting hours for ambulances to come."

Since the news of the deaths broke, neighbours have created a WhatsApp group titled "Brother’s Keeper" to support the family. A chair has been put at the front gate where people drop off items.

Unable to leave the house, Dass-Ramkalawan thanked them for their kind gesture.

She said, "The community has been cooking breakfast, lunch, and dinner for us. They are calling and checking on us constantly."

Owing to the covid19 regulations, people cannot gather in large numbers and the community cannot hold a wake. Instead, several residents lit either candles or deyas in their homes in honour of the father and son.

"We are looking out for each other. We are keeping each other abreast of the virus and situation in TT. We are cooking food for them," a resident said. "If they need anything, we are here for them. We are supporting them."

Newsday also contacted the SWRHA for comments on the deaths.

Without identifying the victims by name, corporate communications manager Kevon Gervais responded. He said the SWRHA is aware of the "specific incident and commiserate with the relatives of the deceased patients.

He repeated the SWRHA's statement that "After investigation, the authority confirms the absence of a conversation in which SWRHA health officials directed the use of a Ventolin inhaler." A social media post had claimed the family was told to use an inhaler and that an ambulance took too long to come for Nigel Ramkalawan.

Gervais added, "The SWRHA will continue to liaise with our service providers to obtain more information to better understand the circumstances."


"Funeral of Siparia father, son who died of covid19 set for Saturday"

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