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Nurse Says Her Father Who Died With COVID-19 Contracted It At Mater Dei

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A nurse warned that her 67-year-old father, who became Malta’s 42nd COVID-19 death, contracted the virus at Mater Dei.

Carla Martinez Al Halmo told Lovin Malta that her father, Carmel “Charlie” Buhagiar, entered hospital on 28th September and produced a negative swab test. While he was waiting for his results, he was placed in a ward with other people with pending test results.

After four other negative test results, while his health deteriorated, he tested positive in the Intensive Care Unit and died ten days later.

Martinez believes he contracted the virus from the hospital.

“My father fell sick on 23rd September,” she explained. “We called our family doctor and after explaining his symptoms he told us to take him to the clinic. He certified that he had influenza. On the 26th, he had a swab test and tested negative.”

“Then on 28th September, he became even sicker and suffered shortness of breath. He was taken to Mater Dei’s emergency ward and because of his symptoms they didn’t let us join him.”

“However, he entered through the COVID-19 ward even though he tested negative prior,” she said, warning he was left with others waiting for their results in the same room.

His hospital admission swab test also came out negative, while an X-Ray found he had bilateral pneumonia and a CT scan found he was vulnerable to contracting COVID-19.

Charlie’s condition got worse and was taken to ITU, and a fourth swab test tested negative too. When his health deteriorated further, a final swab test found him to be positive for COVID-19. Ten days later, he passed away.

“My father fought until the end. He adored his family and was loved immensely by his community,” she said.

The 67-year-old was an avid fan of vintage cars and a figure in the Qormi hockey club. He was known as “Charlie Tal-Għaġin” by those who knew him because he was the first to bring a famous Italian pasta brand to the islands.

When health authorities reported yesterday’s death, they said he had “underlying health conditions”, but Martinez Al Hamo contested this.

“He did have heart problems because he had a bypass 15 years ago, but he never had any health issues since then,” she continued.

Lovin Malta has reached out to the Health Ministry and is awaiting a response.

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