Uber driver dies after experiencing Covid-19 symptoms following Heathrow trip

An Uber driver who died in hospital started to experience symptoms of coronavirus after a passenger trip to Heathrow Airport, his friend has said.

Father-of-two Rajesh Jayaseelan, 45, died in Northwick Park Hospital on April 11 after testing positive for the virus.

His friend of eight years Sunil Kumar told the PA news agency that Mr Jayaseelan started to experience symptoms shortly after a trip to the international airport for a passenger.

Coronavirus – Thu Apr 16, 2020
Coronavirus – Thu Apr 16, 2020

Mr Jayaseelan, who lived in Harrow, west London, moved to the UK from Bangalore, India, a decade ago and worked as a driver for the ride-hailing app for the last few years.

As his wife and two sons, aged four and six, live in India, video calls between Mr Jayaseelan and his family were arranged when his condition deteriorated.

“I spoke to the ward nurse and she said he was very, very sick and the chance of survival was fading,” Mr Kumar said.

“I managed to organise video calls to his family, to his wife, mum and kids, and I got to see him on video as well. A few hours later, the hospital called me to say he had died.”

Mr Kumar said information provided to him by Uber showed that Mr Jayaseelan made a trip to Heathrow Airport on March 25.

Rajesh Jayaseelan
Rajesh Jayaseelan

Shortly afterwards, the 45-year-old started to show symptoms and was advised to stay at home and self-isolate. He drove himself to hospital on April 3 after his condition worsened.

Mr Kumar, an NHS IT support worker, said the hospital’s bereavement team had confirmed that Mr Jayaseelan had tested positive for the disease.

He thought it was “highly possible” that he could have contracted Covid-19 while working.

According to Mr Kumar, the Uber driver had been forced to leave his rented home because of his profession, and was forced to sleep in his car before he managed to find temporary accommodation.

In a tribute to his friend, Mr Kumar said: “He was very down to earth, always kept to himself, he was very humble and would go out of his way to help people.

“We helped each other in hard times.”

Mr Kumar has set up a fundraiser on the GoFundMe website to help Mr Jayaseelan’s family, as the driver was the “sole breadwinner” of the family.

The fund, which he said will go towards helping shape the future for his children, has raised more than £6,000.