Wife of Tesco security guard who worked without PPE died of Covid after seven weeks in hospital

A widow who lost her husband to Covid-19 after he went to work every week without PPE has accused the Government of “acting in its best interests” in its handling of the health crisis. Eric Ohene-Adjei, a “hardworking people-person” and father-of-three, battled Covid for more than seven weeks in University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff before he died on 17 April this year, aged 45. His wife Rachel Ohene-Adjei said her husband, who worked as a security guard for Tesco in St Mellons, only had a face mask for protection.

Like many other security and supermarket workers, Mr Ohene-Adjei worked throughout the pandemic and told his wife that many shoppers refused to wear masks. Violent clashes in stores across the UK were reported during Covid, with supermarket staff saying they were reluctant to challenge shoppers in case they were hit, spat at, or verbally assaulted. Statistics show supermarket workers were five times more likely to test positive for Covid than the average person during the early months of the pandemic.

According to the Office for National Statistics, male security guards were the professional group most at risk of dying from Covid-19. The latest available figures show 101 in 100,000 died from the virus from March to December last year, an even higher rate than NHS staff. As a black man, the security guard was two to four times more likely to die of the virus than the rest of the population.

While an excoriating parliamentary report released earlier this week found “big mistakes” in the Government’s handling of the crisis, finding it amounted to the country’s worst-ever health failure and led to more than 130,000 deaths. “My husband worked every day through the pandemic. He should have been given the vaccine immediately as a frontline worker but he had to wait,” Mrs Ohene-Adjei told i.

“He didn’t have any PPE, just a face mask. I don’t blame Tesco or TSS, his security firm. I blame the Government,” she added.

On Tuesday, the Health and Social Care Committee and the Science and Technology Committee report said it had been “unacceptable” that NHS staff from black and other minority ethnic communities have been put at greater risk because they did not have equal levels of access to PPE compared to white members of staff. “Eric would have been 46 now. He was a people person, would talk to any and everyone.

He always had a positive outlook on life,” his wife, 39, said. “He was very hardworking and was always striving for a better life for his family. The seven weeks he spent in hospital were an emotional rollercoaster, and I had to call in to say my final goodbye.”

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Following the publication of the report, Government minister Stephen Barclay refused to apologise 15 times when grilled in an interview for Sky News, before admitting he hadn’t had a chance to read it.

Mrs Ohene-Adjei said she “wouldn’t expect anything less”. She said: “I think that the Government should have called lockdown sooner. I also think people should have been made to wear masks.

“I think that the vaccine should have been rolled out faster and earlier. I know my husband would have had it. I have nothing but praise for the NHS and the care they provided for my husband.

“But the Government, in my opinion, have and will always be money-grabbing liars. They didn’t act quickly enough because it was not in their best interest. The Government will continue to be corrupt and will never do right by the people who hold the country together.”

i has approached the Department for Health and Social Care for comment.

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