It was an absurd farce. Within 24 hours, Johnson had gone from reassuring the public that schools were safe to admitting they may be “vectors for transmission”. The mass-testing capabilities that schools had built over the Christmas break, when they could have been putting their energy and resources into setting up remote learning packages, were mothballed.
But Donna was oblivious to the chaos. Late in the evening of 3 January, her organs started to fail. On 6 January, Donna’s family got the call they had been dreading. “I wanted to hold her hand,” Steph says. “She wasn’t going on her own.” Vicki, Steph and Donna’s father were allowed to visit. They felt that Donna wasn’t in that sterile hospital room, but had already left her body. “I said: ‘Let’s do it. Put her at peace.’”
Steph and Vicki each took their sister’s hand. Their father held their hands. Doctors turned off the ventilator. “I lost Donna the minute they put her on the ventilator,” says Vicki. “When they rang up to say she wasn’t responding and her organs were failing, it was like someone just shot me. They tore my heart out that night.” After 10 minutes, at 8.45am, Donna died. Steph, Vicki and their father embraced, collected her things and went home.