Daughter baptised during funeral service for Covid victim mother Samantha Willis (35)

There were tearful scenes in Londonderry on Monday as a new mother who died after contracting Covid-19 before she got to hold her daughter was laid to rest.

Monday, 23rd August 2021, 5:18 pm
Updated Monday, 23rd August 2021, 5:40 pm

Samantha Willis, 35, died on August 20 at Altnagelvin Hospital and today her two-week-old daughter, Eviegrace, was baptised during the service at St Columb’s Church.

Mourners lined up outside, clad in the kit of League of Ireland team Derry City FC.

She had not been vaccinated before she died, and her husband Josh urged all those not vaccinated to come forward for the jab.

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Josh Willis (centre), husband of Samantha Willis (nee Curran) as the hearse carrying her coffin arrives outside St Columb's Church, Londonderry, for the funeral of the mother-of-four from Strathfoyle who died with Covid-19 shortly after giving birth on Friday. Picture date: Monday August 23, 2021.

The funeral came on the day that nine further deaths of patients who had tested positive for Covid-19 were reported in Northern Ireland, along with another 1,320 confirmed cases of the virus.

On Monday morning there were 352 Covid-positive patients in hospital, of whom 43 were in intensive care.

Northern Ireland has the highest Covid-10 infection rate in the UK, at 579.5 per 100,000 people, the highest since January 8.

Fermanagh & Omagh has the highest rate of any local authority in the UK, with a total of 1,003.9 cases per 100,000 people recorded in the seven days to August 18.

The hearse carrying the coffin of Samantha Willis (nee Curran) to St Columb's Church, Londonderry, for the funeral for mother-of-four from Strathfoyle who died with Covid-19 shortly after giving birth on Friday. Picture date: Monday August 23, 2021.

Stormont health minister Robin Swann appeared to rule out another lockdown being agreed at the next meeting of the Executive in September.

“I don’t think we are at that point yet about putting more restrictions back in,” he told the BBC.

“The Executive meets again in the first week in September in regards to what’s still in place and what we’ll look at in regards to the next steps, and that’s where that decision will be made.”

Meanwhile, it has been estimated that around 8,000 vaccinations were administered in the Big Jab Weekend initiative. The official figure is expected to be released later.

The coffin of Samantha Willis (nee Curran) from Strathfoyle is taken from St Columb's Church, Londonderry, after her funeral. The mother-of-four died with Covid-19 shortly after giving birth on Friday. Picture date: Monday August 23, 2021.

Following the closure of the large-scale vaccination centre at the SSE Arena in Belfast, the next phase of the programme is set to focus on localised pop-up walk-in clinics, both in high footfall locations and in areas where accessibility issues and other barriers may have impacted on take-up.

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