Dedicated nurse Jennie Sablayan

A nurse who raised concerns over the safety of frontline NHS colleagues and a community campaigner against hospital ward closures are among the latest Londoners to die with coronavirus.

Jennie Sablayan, 44, was a haematology nurse at University College Hospital for almost 20 years, and died in intensive care on May 5 after testing positive for Covid-19. She leaves two daughters, aged 10 and 14, and husband Joel, an intensive care nurse.

Mrs Sablayan, who trained in the Phillippines before moving to Richmond, had warned in a Facebook post a month earlier that she was scared by the threat posed by the disease.

“Are we being let down by the NHS? As a nurse I fear for my life and the life of all my colleagues who are in the battlefield without the proper gear,” she wrote. “Something has to be done.”

Her warning was posted on April 5 alongside a news story about John Alagos, a nurse at Watford General Hospital, who had died with the virus. Mrs Sablayan was helping to treat Covid-19 patients until mid-April when she tested positive for the virus, friends said. She was self-isolating at home until her condition worsened and was taken to West Middlesex Hospital, where she was placed on a ventilator but could not be saved.

Mrs Sablayan was also a clinical adviser for nursing agency Zentar UK. Company director Fahim Modak, who was also a friend, has set up an online fundraising campaign to help her family which has received more than £35,000 in donations. “Jennie was outgoing, bubbly and so close to her family, especially her daughters. I know they are all in complete shock. Everyone who knew her is. She was dedicated to nursing.”

Marcel Levi, the chief executive of University College Hospital, said that Mrs Sablayan was “an expert in her field.” He added: “Jennie looked after patients with leukaemia, lymphoma and other blood cancers with much kindness and great dedication.”

Meanwhile, campaigner Walter Harris, who ran an antiques stall in Portobello Road market for about 20 years, has died with coronavirus at Charing Cross Hospital, whose A&E department he fought to save from closure.

Mr Harris, 88, had tested positive and died with the disease and pneumonia. The father-of-two, who had worked as a medical copywriter, also had a heart condition. He had been a leading campaigner in the successful Save Charing Cross campaign which also battled to save Ealing Hospital’s A&E unit. His wife Suzanna, 72, thanked the staff at Charing Cross Hospital for their care. She said: “He was looked after very kindly and made comfortable.” She added: “He was gentle, he enjoyed reading and talking about books. He was a good companion always and had a quirky sense of humour.

Mr Harris had a Jewish burial on April 28 arranged by the family with the help of the rabbi at Charing Cross.

Evening Standard 11th May 2020