Calixte, the care home worker lost to Covid-19, and a family’s fight for justice


Calixte Songa Mbappé, 54, a single mother of five, worked on temporary contracts in a care home operated by Paris City Hall when the novel coronavirus epidemic began sweeping through France. In close physical contact with the residents, but not issued with a face mask or other protective clothing, she caught the virus in mid-March and died within weeks. Her financially insecure children are now in an uphill fight for official recognition that her illness was caused at her workplace. Mathilde Goanec reports on an emblematic case of the unsung carers who lost their lives to Covid-19, and the plight of the families left behind.   

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Amélia, 14, is the youngest of Calixte Songa Mbappé's five children. Since her mother’s death four months ago, she spends her days lying on her bed, in silence, with just her mobile phone for some kind of distraction. “I leave at night to go to work and I leave her alone in the flat,” explained Aurelle Kedy, her elder sister, who is a nurse. “It worries me greatly to see her like that, with no words.”