Mary Agyeiwaa Agyapong, 28, worked in the wards of the Luton and Dunstable University Hospital up until 12 March, 2020 when she was allowed to sign off work due to back issues, her widower Ernest Boateng told Bedfordshire and Luton Coroner’s Court on Tuesday, according to the Press Association.
Mr Boateng said his partner continued to go hospital, however, to attend medical appointments.
On 5 April, the nurse was admitted into hospital with breathing issues, but was discharged later that day.
She was readmitted two days later, however, with coronavirus symptoms.
At the time, she was 35 weeks pregnant, the court heard. Surgeons were able to safely deliver her child, who has also been named Mary, by Caesarean section before the mother was transferred to the intensive unit.
She died there days later on 12 April, with the preliminary cause of death found to be pneumonia and Covid-19.
At the inquest, Mr Boateng, 30, said “Mary continued to work [at the start of the coronavirus outbreak], but she was very concerned about the situation involving Covid-19, so much so that when she came home from work she would take her clothes off at the front door and take a shower immediately”.
“She was very worried about bringing Covid into the home,” he said.
Mr Boateng, a mental health worker studying for a Masters in law, said Mary also began to sleep in the spare room at the family home in an effort to protect her husband and their son, AJ.
He said Mary’s colleagues were similarly afraid.
“She told me the staff were very scared about the virus because they were on the front line and likely to come into contact with Covid-19 patients,” he said.
The 30-year-old said he had wanted his wife to stay home, but “due to high demand at the hospital, she had to keep working”.
“She tried to reassure me that everything would be okay but I could understand she was anxious and panicking deep down,” he said.
Mr Boateng said he strongly believed that his wife, who was originally from Ghana, had contracted Covid-19 while at work.
He further said he believed his wife had felt pressured to work, despite her condition and fears of contracting coronavirus.
“My understanding is Mary was being pressurised to get back to work, as she had meetings about her sickness records earlier that year.”
Asked later in the inquest whether there was any question of the 28-year-old being pressured to work, Nicola Hinselwood, Mary’s senior colleague on ward 12, said: “Not to my knowledge”.
Yet, Mr Boateng said his partner had “continued to work long, 12-hour shifts”, despite having “struggled” with her second pregnancy, an undertaking he said she found “very tiring and difficult”.
Now, his family is struggling to cope with impact of her death.
“What was supposed to be a happy moment in our lives quickly changed into a traumatic and painful loss,” he said.
“Every day my children have to deal with the loss of their mother and I feel helpless when AJ asks when he can see his mother again.”
The inquest into Mary’s death began on Tuesday, which has been a national day of reflection marking the first day of the country’s lockdown.
The hearing will continue over the coming days.
This article has been updated with new information from the inquest.