A Maltese woman has died from coronavirus after she is suspected of having contracted it in a London hospital, her brother has said.

Rosalie Freestone-Bayes, 77, had diabetes and high blood pressure but was otherwise healthy.

Her brother, Frank Portelli, a former president of the Nationalist Party, spoke out about the family's grief to warn people that the virus can kill.   

“She did not have any serious medical conditions and I strongly suspect she contracted the virus when she went to the hospital for some heart-related tests and it just tipped her over," he told Times of Malta

"Let this serve as a lesson that people who are over 60 years old and have any slight medical condition like diabetes or high blood pressure, it can kill, as it did to my sister,” he said. 

'She died in isolation'

He described his sister as a jovial person. She attended St Joseph School in Blata l-Bajda and Sliema and taught music in various government schools and St Patrick’s School in Sliema. One of her students contacted Portelli recently to ask how he could help when she was very ill. 

“She used to love visiting patients in hospital but she died alone as she was in isolation and not even her two children could visit her. That’s the irony of life.”

He said he last spoke to his sister via messager around six days ago, before she was sedated and eventually in a coma. “The last thing she told me was that she loved us dearly,” Portelli said, fighting hard not to be overtaken by his emotions.

Freestone-Bayes lived in Malta for most of her life. She was married to Gilbert, a scientist, but was widowed two years ago. 

'This virus is not forgiving'  

Portelli, a doctor by profession, said that tests so far have found that people with high blood pressure are more prone to contracting the virus. Those who smoke are also vulnerable.

“We really need to take this seriously. The virus does not look at who the person is. It just attacks in the person’s weakest points. It attacked people like UK Prime Minister Boris Johnston and Prince Charles and so it can attack anyone. No one is invincible.

“Apart from my sister, I know of another two Maltese who died after contracting COVID-19. A 66-year-old woman who was my sister’s friend and who died in a London hospital too and a man who died in Spain. This virus is not forgiving, and we cannot underestimate it,” he stressed. 

He said that Maltese need to take the virus threat seriously as "it's getting out of hand". He said he was deeply concerned that infected people were being kept in different places such as Mater Dei, Mount Carmel Hospital, St Thomas Hospital, Boffa and the ─Žal Far open centre. 

"They should all be in the same place if we want to control it. Otherwise, it's going to get out of hand and we cannot afford it. God forbid it manages to find its way into an old people's home because we'd have lots of deaths," he said.  

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