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Man lost his mum, dad and brother to Covid after they were scared by anti-vaccination 'misinformation' - Cambridgeshire Live - Cambridgeshire Live

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A man has spoken of losing three family members within a week of each other after contracting Covid.

Francis Goncalves said his family, who were in Portugal, did not get their coronavirus vaccines because they had been scared by anti-vaccination "misinformation".

He is sharing his story in the hope it will save lives by encouraging others to have their jabs rather than be put off by conspiracy theorists, according to WalesOnline.

Francis who lives in Cardiff, said his brother, Shaul, 40, father, Basil, 73, and mother Charmagne, 65, all started to feel unwell on the weekend of July 10, a few days after having a meal together.

Within two weeks of first showing Covid symptoms, they had all passed away.

The 43-year-old told WalesOnline : "Dad went to hospital on July 6 for kidney stones, we think he picked Covid up there. On Thursday, July 8, my parents had dinner at my brother's apartment he shares with his girlfriend and they started to feel very ill that weekend.

"On the Monday, my brother's girlfriend said Shaul could feel something was wrong. He said he'd never felt anything like it, that he felt like he was filled with weight and that he was tired. He decided to get a test for Covid and they tested positive.

"My parents were really ill at the time as well. They went through to the hospital and I had a text from my father that afternoon saying they've been admitted into the hospital because they have both tested positive. That was on July 12."

With Francis being so far away in Cardiff, he said it became difficult to get hold of his parents.

But on Wednesday, July 14 he discovered his dad who has underlying health issues had been moved to the intensive care unit (ICU). From that point on each family member started to deteriorate, so Francis made plans to fly over to be with them in Portugal.

Shaul and his mother, Charmagne

Shaul and his mother, Charmagne (Image: Francis Goncalves)

He said: "I spoke to my brother every day and we couldn't get hold of my father. He had a little bit of battery life available on his phone on the Tuesday morning and I managed to ask him how he was doing, but then he didn't have a charger. It was very difficult for me to get hold of him in a country I couldn't speak the language.

"My brother was finding it frustrating to get in touch with my parents as well, but he managed to get through to my mother on the Wednesday, which was when my father was put into an induced coma and moved to ICU.

"Meanwhile [my brother's] mucus had changed from green to brown and I told him to be very careful because that could be a sign of pneumonia. From then, he deteriorated and when I managed to speak to him, I could tell there was definitely something wrong with him. I started pushing my plans to get up there faster."

But heartbreakingly, as Francis waited for the Covid test results he needed to be able to fly out to Portugal, he received a text saying his brother had been rushed to hospital.

"On the Saturday (July 17) I had a message at 8.08pm to say Shaul had been rushed off to hospital in an ambulance," he said. "I spoke to his girlfriend and she was really worried. Then, at about 1am I received a call from her saying she had been told he had passed away that evening."

Francis said his brother was the "healthiest person" he knew and believes the vaccine would have saved his life, adding: "If he wasn't working out in the gym or running, he was going on walks. He hadn't drunk in 15 years and ate a whole foods plant-based diet."

Francis' father Basil

Francis' father Basil (Image: Francis Goncalves)

With his brother being Francis' only means of contacting his parents, Francis had to get hold of a law firm in Portugal to help him out. The firm contacted the hospital on his behalf and passed on his contact details.

Devastatingly, on Tuesday, July 20 the hospital called Francis to say his father had also died.

The next day, Francis finally managed to get a flight up to Portugal to see his mother and to make arrangements for his dad and brother. When he arrived, he discovered his mother - who had a number of underlying health issues, including an autoimmune disease - was struggling to cope with the virus.

Francis said: "On the Wednesday, I travelled through to Portugal after getting my PCR test results and I managed to find out more about my mother. She was also in an induced coma. They allowed me to go and see her which was already a sign that things weren't going well and I had to dress up in full PPE.

"Then on the Saturday, JuIy 24, I received a phone call from the doctor saying they were in a situation where they had tried everything and the next couple of hours would be critical. Later that evening, I received a call to say she had passed away."

A week later, on Sunday, August 1, all three members of the family were buried next to each other at a cemetery in Lisbon called Sao Joao, where a section is dedicated to Covid-related deaths.

Shaul (left) with Francis

Shaul (left) with Francis (Image: Francis Goncalves)

Francis said: "[They were buried] where all the Covid bodies are buried. It's allocated and marked off. They said the entire time during Covid they'd never had three bodies brought in together from the same family.

"I asked about exhuming the bodies at a later date and moving them somewhere outside a dedicated Covid zone, as it didn't represent my family. But they said that unfortunately not knowing enough about Covid there is no intention of moving them ever. It was really terrible."

Francis, who returned home from Portugal on Friday, August 6, said his experience had been incredibly painful. He said his family was "small and close" but that his mum, dad and brother had all positively impacted the lives of many others around them.

Francis said he grew up in South Africa and that his brother helped the family to move to Cardiff in 2015 to escape violence in the region. A year later, his parents and brother moved to Portugal, where his father was originally from.

Describing his family, he said: "My father gave everything. He would wear broken shoes so we could have the best they could get. I found a bible he carried around with him when I was in Lisbon and I opened it up and saw a bookmark and it was a picture of my mum when she was in her 20s.

"I could see that he loved her and she loved him. He never knew his father, but he always tried to be something more. My mother was a mother hen and she'd do anything for us. I remember my brother started a little printing company and couldn't get much work so my mother started selling things of hers so she could help him out.

Francis Goncalves (front, right) lost his brother Shaul, mum, Charmagne, and father Basil within seven days of each other

Francis Goncalves (front, right) lost his brother Shaul, mum, Charmagne, and father Basil within seven days of each other (Image: Francis Goncalves)

"My brother was my best friend. He started a YouTube channel called Animation Deconstructed where he would talk people through animation and it was picking up slowly, but the greatest and worst part about it is it's now gone crazy. This was his thing and the career he wanted and he never got to see it.

"He always looked out for the best interests of people around him and he wanted to teach people. He spend time helping people and wouldn't ask for anything in return. That was the same with my father, he would go to people's places and help fixed things for them. I was and am still proud of my family."

Francis said as he has grieved for his three closest family members over the last few weeks, his time has been spent dealing with attorneys, funeral homes and hospitals. He said it had been been a "rollercoaster" going from one thing to the next.

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He said: "I went over to Portugal with the intention of looking after our parents after hearing my brother was ill. It's literally been a push from one day to the next to get things done, but you just have to sort it out and get it done.

"You're just gritting your teeth and pushing through and if you manage to get a pause, it becomes a flood of emotion. I'm very lucky that my friends have offered their time to chat, the support has definitely helped me. My wife and my extended family on both sides also supported me.

Francis Goncalves is just 'gritting his teeth and pushing through'

Francis Goncalves is just 'gritting his teeth and pushing through' (Image: Mark Lewis Photography)

"I'm at home now and I know everything is going to sink in a lot faster because I don't need to rush through things so much. I'm going to have time to focus on what's happened so I expect to be quite overwhelmed."

Though talking about his experience is extremely tough, Francis hopes that sharing the painful experience might encourage others to get the coronavirus vaccine if they have so far been too afraid to get it like his family.

"They got caught up in a lot of the anti-vaccination propaganda that's going around," Francis said. "It preys on people who are afraid and they fall into the trap. The message I want to get out is why would the government want to hurt you by giving you a vaccine? What is the purpose behind it? I've spoken to so many people who are terrified of the vaccine and it costs lives."

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