While Australia’s coronavirus death toll is small compared with the US or UK, the loss of each person is a great tragedy for their families and friends.
Deaths from Covid-19 can be lonely. More often than not families can’t be together in the final hours, and funerals must be small, with those in mourning standing 1.5 metres apart.
The information released by authorities on deaths from the virus is usually sparse to protect the privacy of grieving families, but it can also hide the scale of the loss.
Here, we document just some of the Australians who have lost their lives to the coronavirus. Their families have chosen to share their stories, ensuring their loved ones’ deaths aren’t obscured by statistics or curves.
Maureen Preedy, 69, Perth
Maureen was an avid traveller, a loving grandma, and describes as “vibrant” and “extroverted” by her daughter Simone.
Maureen and her husband Barry are believed to have been infected on the Costa Victoria cruise ship and she was admitted to hospital when she arrived back in Perth. She was placed in an induced coma and died several days later.
Despite being married for nearly 50 years, and also testing positive for Covid-19, Barry was not allowed to be with Maureen as she died.
Her daughter Simone said if it wasn’t for the Covid-19 restrictions, her mother would have had dozens if not hundreds of people at her funeral.
“Mum was a very well-loved person within quite a big family network. She had lots of friends, was active within the community. It would have been a huge funeral”.
Maureen’s story was covered in Guardian Australia’s ongoing series, Postcards from the Pandemic.
Ann Fahey, 76, Sydney
At 76, Ann Fahey was one of the youngest residents at the Newmarch House aged care home. When an outbreak of Covid-19 spread through the facility, Ann’s family thought she would be OK as she was in good health and tested negative twice.
But more than two weeks after the outbreak began, she came down with a fever. On 30 April she tested positive for Covid-19, and on Saturday 2 May she passed away at the Nepean hospital in western Sydney. She was the 14th resident to die in the outbreak.
Her granddaughter Nicole Fahey spoke with Guardian Australia before Ann was diagnosed.
“She’s very social. You could say she’s kind of like the little ringleader in there. They all go to her for support. She is kind of like the queen.”
Newmarch House is the second-largest cluster in Australia and accounts for more than 10% of all Covid-19 deaths.
Mike, 82, Canberra
Mike, whose family requested his last name not be used, was Labor MP Ged Kearney’s father-in-law. He passed away in early April when the death toll stood at around 30.
Kearney posted a tribute on her official Facebook page.
“‘Oh’ you might say, ‘30 is OK compared to other countries’ or you might say ‘30 is getting up there’ or you might just look at it see a number and not think much at all, because you are just going about your daily isolation activities,
“But please, don’t let these figures just become nameless statistics to you. You see that 30th person was Mike, my father in law. My partner Leigh’s much loved and loving father. He was 82 years old and had done his best to isolate. In fact, I believe he only went outside a couple of times in the whole month to shop.”
Kearney said he became ill suddenly and passed away seven days after being admitted to hospital.
“Now his Canberra family is in isolation and Wendy, nearly 80, must grieve on her own, in their house alone, away from hugs and kisses and tears and drinks and friends and family. My heart breaks for her and her kids and my Leigh. Death in the time of Corona Virus is hard,” she said.
Sumith Pramachandra, 55, Melbourne
Sumith Pramachandra’s daughters said he was a loving grandfather and the life of any party.
The 55-year-old passed away at Dandenong hospital in Melbourne on 6 April, several days after being diagnosed.
His daughter, Sharyn, shared a tribute on Facebook.
“Our hearts are broken into a million pieces. He was the most charismatic, kind-hearted, generous, hilarious, lovable, godly and caring man you would ever meet. Everyone that knew him would tell you he lit up any room he walked into and his presence will never be replaced,” she said.
“Our dad was a disability nurse, a health care worker on the frontline, but for those of you that aren’t taking Covid-19 seriously, it may be hard not to see your friends and family at the moment but you can choose to isolate now or potentially live with the heartbreak of losing them forever.”
James Kwan, 78, Perth
James Kwan was the first person in Australia to die after being diagnosed with Covid-19. The 78-year-old Perth man was a passenger onboard the Diamond Princess, a cruise ship that was forced to quarantine in the Japanese port of Yokohama in February.
He and his wife were among the 150 Australians who were isolated on board.
He was transported home to Australia on a government-chartered Qantas flight and was diagnosed while isolating in Howard Springs, Northern Territory. He was then moved to a Perth hospital where he died in the early hours of 1 March.
Kwan has been remembered as a tourism pioneer, establishing Perth’s first inbound tourism company, Wel-Travel in 1988. He was a founding member of the Western Australian Tour Operators Association, now known as the Australian Tourism Export Council.
Garry Kirstenfeldt, 68, Toowoomba
Garry Kirstenfeldt died on 25 March in Toowoomba, after recently travelling on the Voyager of the Seas cruise ship in Sydney.
His family said he was an avid traveller.
“Our father was a man with much more life in him,” his children said in a statement.
“He had been on 16 cruise ships and loved to relax with family or worry about activities to keep us entertained … We never expected his 17th cruise to be his last or no one to be at his side for the last moments of his life. As his family, this was the first time he had been in hospital and we were not at his side.”
The Queensland Department of Health said he had a serious underlying medical condition before contracting the virus.
Des Williams, 85, Toowoomba
On 2 April, Des Williams, who was a passenger on the Ruby Princess cruise ship, passed away in a Toowoomba hospital.
His family said he was a patient and loving grandfather.
“Des was a beautiful man who saw the best in every person and gave so much of his time to each and every one of us,” his relative Jacqui Blackburn posted on Facebook.
“The news are reporting that an elderly man passed away, but while Des was 85, he had the health and strength of a 75-year-old. I wish they wouldn’t say he was elderly because he was nothing like that. He would spend most of his days in the garden tending to his plants and his garden.”
Williams was a retired minister at St Stephen’s Uniting Church.
His wife Bev was also a passenger on the ship, however, relatives say she is in good physical health.
Ray Daniels, 73, Perth
On 26 March, Western Australian man Ray Daniels died at the Joondalup Health Campus after being diagnosed with Covid-19.
“We as a family are completely devastated by the sudden death of our father, husband and grandfather. He was a very fit, healthy and active man with no known underlying health issues. He showed no real significant signs of being unwell until he collapsed at home on Wednesday morning. He died within 48 hours,” his family said in a statement.
“Clearly this virus does not discriminate and we never believed for one second that it would take him from us.”
He disembarked from the Celebrity Solstice cruise ship in Sydney earlier in the week.
Francesco Ferraro, 75, Adelaide
On 6 April, South Australia recorded the state’s first death, 75-year-old Francesco (Frank) Ferraro from metropolitan Adelaide, who died at the Royal Adelaide hospital.
“Mr Ferraro was a loving husband and father to three children and grandfather to eight,” his family said in a statement.
His family said Ferraro had attended a family function interstate in March and began to feel unwell when he returned.
“My father’s interactions which caused the spread of the virus were nothing outside what a family or group of friends would experience.
“The family would like to take this opportunity to implore all South Australians to abide by and comply with all the advice and directions given by the government and police.”