Derbyshire and Derby have now surpassed the tragic milestone of 3,000 Covid-19 deaths, a year and a half into the pandemic.
Government data shows the first Covid-19 death in Derbyshire was in Bolsover district in the week ending March 20 last year, a few days before the first national lockdown.
Now the county and city have amassed a total of 3,001 Covid-19 deaths, as of July 27, 15 months later.
These are people where Covid-19 was mentioned as a cause on their death certificate.
Each of these 3,001 deaths represent immense losses for their loved ones.
These 3,001 deaths represent lost friends, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, siblings, cousins, grandfather and grandfathers.
They fulfilled roles throughout the community as nurses, doctors, armed forces veterans, teachers, shopkeepers, bus drivers, cleaners, carers, chefs, religious leaders – and many more.
Many of the more than 3,000 Derbyshire residents who have died after contracting the virus will have been supported by a vast array of health and social care staff supporting them until the very end.
Earlier this year, Fliss Pass, a nurse working on Derby and Burton’s Covid wards, spoke about how she stayed with a patient and held their hand until they passed away.
A large number of the more than 3,000 Derbyshire residents who have died from what was a brand-new unknown virus not too long ago, passed away in isolation and much of their last few weeks was spent separated from their loved ones.
Hospital staff and care home workers have arranged countless video calls so that Covid-19 patients, kept in isolation away from their loved ones due to the risk of spreading the virus, could say farewell face to face.
These are just a few examples of the compassion and support which has counterbalanced much of the heart-wrenching and incomprehensible tragedy the county and city has experienced over the past year.
To date, the total rate of Covid-19 deaths per 100,000 people in Derby is 307, placing it 24th highest in the UK and the fourth highest of any UK city.
Derbyshire (excluding Derby) has the third highest rate of any shire county with 275.4 deaths per 100,000 people.
Nationally, a quarter of all residents who have died after contracting Covid-19 passed away in care homes. The Care Quality Commission says 861 people who contracted Covid died in Derbyshire care homes between April 10 last year and March 31 this year.
It cannot be overlooked that a number of residents will have died in their own homes, some through personal choice but others through a total lack of contact, in isolation.
There has not been sufficient time to mourn and reflect on what we have endured and suffered and who we have lost – all while the pandemic remains with us.
Dean Wallace, Derbyshire County Council’s public health director, told a meeting earlier this year that Covid-19, unlike with other pandemics, has not been and is not a “great leveller” – affecting everyone equally.
The virus has been grossly unequal in its impact on the most vulnerable and deprived he and other professionals have detailed.
Mr Wallace said: “It picks out the most weak, the most frail and the most vulnerable in society and those cohorts of people suffer the most and that is completely unacceptable and needs to be avoided in future.
“We need to learn the lessons in this in terms of health inequalities and how we support the most vulnerable groups across our community.
“The most deprived groups are at significantly more risk of a severe outcome – in this case, death, from Covid-19.”
Talking about the thousands of people in the county and city who have now died as a result of Covid-19, Mr Wallace had said: “Within that group is a large cohort of people who, were it not for Covid-19, would not have passed away at that moment in time.”
He also said the impact of Covid-19 restrictions – including loneliness, isolation and stress – on mental health and well-being “will be felt for many years to come”.
Health officials in the county and city have spoken out in recent months about how the pandemic has “shone a light” on the glaring inequalities in our communities, which have been around for decades but have been brought to the forefront through Covid.
Our most deprived communities have been disproportionately impacted by the virus.
More deprived communities are less able to self-isolate when told to do so, which for some will mean losing their job. It is also harder to stay at home if a household does not have the resources to stock up.
On top of this, deprived communities are typically employed in roles which cannot be carried out from home and which are more unstable. In our region this often includes manufacturing and factory work. It also includes health and social care roles, which frequently involve visiting many people’s homes throughout lockdown.
These sections of society remained at work as normal over the past year and, particularly in the early stages of the pandemic, did so with insufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) or enforced infection prevention measures.
Health and social care staff have also been among the fallen, with their sacrifices to support our loved ones, placing themselves in the line of fire for our benefit – including those who did not believe in the virus.
Staff have spoken of how the deaths of their own colleagues are among the moments which shook them to their cores and have continued to represent the harshest realities of the pandemic.
This includes the landmark death, due to Covid, of Amged El-Hawrani, an ear, nose and throat consultant at Queen’s Hospital in Burton, aged 55, on March 28, 2020 – the first frontline NHS worker to die after contracting the virus.
This was five days after the UK lockdown was called.
Royal Derby Hospital’s Manjeet Singh Riyat, the UK’s first Sikh A&E consultant and “father” of the city’s emergency department, died following Covid infection on April 20, 2020. He was 52 years old.
These deaths represented shockwaves not just to the local NHS but the nation’s health services, along with communities across the UK.
Here are just some of those who have died after contracting Covid-19 from across Derby and Derbyshire:
Haji Mohammed Rafique Jammati, a retired British Rail worker who lived in Derby, died from Covid-19 aged 78 on March 7, 2020, weeks before a lockdown was called and days before a pandemic was officially declared.
Gladys Mujajati, a Derby mental health nurse, aged 46, from Littleover, had stepped back from the frontline due to an underlying health condition but died after contracting Covid-19 in mid-April 2020.
Eileen Landers, a Swadlincote cleaner who worked at Queen’s Hospital in Burton for 16 years, who lived in Swadlincote, died on April 26, 2020 after contracting Covid-19. She was 67 years old.
Pete Watkins, aged 97, an Arnhem war veteran, died on May 23, 2020, three weeks after contracting Covid-19 on Victory in Europe Day and while the figurehead of a campaign to save the West Hallam care home he was living in.
Brian Lennox, a popular Derby shopkeeper, well-known in Chaddesden and Spondon, died aged 84 in June 2020 after contracting the virus.
Jagir Singh, aged 71, who lived in Sinfin and was a “true pillar” of the Derby Sikh community, died after contracting Covid-19 on November 7, 2020.
Mark Morgan, a dad-of-two from Sandiacre, died aged 38 on November 26, 2020. He had been grieving the loss of a family member at the time of his diagnosis.
On January 27, 2021, Derbyshire Community Health Services announced the tragic death, due to Covid, of Sandra Scott, aged 49, from Brimington, following 20 years of service.
Jenny Stone, who worked in the facilities team at Chesterfield Royal Hospital for nearly 30 years, died on February 6, 2021, after contracting Covid-19. She was 60 years old.
Dave Mackin, a beloved father from Somercotes, died aged 32 in February 2021, after contracting Covid at the start of the year, spurring a charity fundraiser from an eight-year-old friend of the heartbroken family.