Seychellois in Italy dies of unknown cause |02 April 2020
The Moustache family in Seychelles has been left without answers in regards to the recent death of their sister, Marie-Greta Moustache-Barzi, who recently passed away in her country of residence, Italy.
67-year-old Greta’s sudden and unexpected death occurred in her home in Milan on Monday March 30 and she was buried yesterday in a private and solemn ceremony.
According to the Moustache family, the cause of death remains unknown since an autopsy was not conducted.
From the information the family has been able to piece together, it would seem that the Italian health system is too overwhelmed to conduct some post-mortem examinations.
Italy is the second country, after the United States, to be hit the hardest with COVID-19 and, from the date of this article being written, it has recorded over 105,000 confirmed cases and more than 12,000 deaths.
Euronews has described Italy as a country being “suffocated” by COVID-19.
Up to the date of her death, Greta was a nurse practitioner who was taking care of elderly patients at a hospital.
She was one of the many front liners and essential workers still moving about and working even as Italy went under complete lockdown.
“Even though she had a great likelihood to be exposed to the virus, we can neither confirm nor deny that she had the virus because there was no autopsy,” Greta’s sister, Jane, told Seychelles NATION.
Her other sister, Virginia, explained that she received the information about her sister’s death on Tuesday morning through a Seychellois acquaintance who has family members living in Italy.
Virginia stated that she was shocked to hear the news.
The two sisters had last spoken on March 21 and the conversation had provided no indication that Greta was sick or feeling unwell.
“I asked if they were dealing with the virus at the hospital where she worked and she had replied that her ward did not have the virus but another ward in the same hospital did have cases,” Virginia said.
“She was doing fine and was not complaining of any pain. I asked her if she was ok and she told me that she only had some pain in her legs due to her knee operations and the fact that her work was tasking since she works during the day and does night shifts as well,” she added.
Greta had also told her sister that she had been taking public transportation in order to get to work and had been taking necessary precautions such as using protective gears and discarding them at the appropriate moments.
Since Greta’s husband, Giuseppe Barzi, cannot communicate in English, French or Creole and none of the Moustache family members are fluent in Italian so they have had to get information from various sources, including Greta’s son, Luca Brazi.
“Through various persons, we learnt that my sister was suffering from a toothache and the dentist had prescribed antibiotics to deal with the infection. However the pain got worse in the afternoon and she started spitting blood so her husband went to the casualty to get a doctor. But by the time they had gotten back to the house she was already dead,” Virginia stated.
“They called an ambulance and the police, and she was certified dead but it was not possible to conduct an autopsy. The doctors there said that the hospital was too congested, that they had no facility to do the autopsy and so we just have to accept that she is dead.”
Greta’s body was going to be cremated along with some COVID-19 patients who had died but her son and husband refused, and had to pay a large sum to have her buried in a private cemetery.
Virginia stated that she is not aware if Greta displayed any COVID-19 symptoms and given that the family cannot communicate effectively with her husband and they do not have an autopsy report, they are unaware of what their sister died of.
“We have never been faced with a situation where we cannot attend a funeral of a family member […] it’s a heavy loss for us and it is more difficult because we cannot send her off properly,” Virginia added.
The Moustache family is hoping to hold a special church service for Greta once the situation goes back to normal.
Greta left Seychelles for Italy over 45 years ago and her last visit to Seychelles was in 2009.
Born on May 19, 1952 to Seychellois parents in Mombasa, Kenya, Greta leaves behind her son Luca and husband Giuseppe as well as her sisters (Emilia, Jane, Patricia, Virginia, Hilda, Tracey, Cynthia and Suzy), brothers (Phillip, Brian, Robert and Andrew) as well as other extended family members in Seychelles.