Coronavirus Australia: Inside the Sydney South West house where the mother of infected movers died of Covid
Close-knit generations of the same family all lived together under one roof before their matriarch, the mother of two Covid-infected movers infected to regional NSW, died of the virus on Monday.
The 54-year-old mother of Roni and Ramsin Shawka, 27, was found dead at their home in Green Valley in southwestern Sydney around 9.15am on Monday.
Neighbors said the woman had only tested positive for the disease three days earlier and had barely shown any symptoms.
NSW Health confirmed she was the latest ‘Covid-related death’ to hit the state during the brutal second wave of the virus.
“It was a nice family,” said a neighbor. “They always smiled at you and waved as they drove by. They are very nice, very friendly.
Generations of the tragic Shawka family (pictured) all lived together under the same roof before Covid killed the mother of the two movers infected with regional NSW
The 54-year-old mother of Roni and Ramsin Shawka, 27, was found dead at 9:15 a.m. Monday at their home in Thursday Place (pictured) in Sydney’s Green Valley.
‘On the weekends you saw children playing in the front yard and they parked their removal van on the side.’
The family had only moved to the area about 18 months ago after purchasing the sprawling detached home in December 2019 for $925,000.
The sprawling five-bedroom, three-bathroom, two-story house was home to the dead woman and her husband, their twin sons, their partners and their sister, neighbors said.
Other neighbors also said they often saw young children playing outside the house.
As news of the mother’s sudden death spread, other family members flocked to the crime scene but were kept at a distance by police who closed off the entire street.
One of the cousins of the family was among those who were rejected and comforted by neighbors.
“It’s a huge shock,” said a neighbor. “You see all the stories about Covid on television, but to have a business on your street and someone die in their house is a little scary.
Neighbors said the woman had only tested positive for the disease three days earlier and had barely shown any symptoms. Here you can see the closed street where the dead woman lived
“One of the other neighbors is also Assyrian, as are the Shawkas and they have spoken to the family. They said the mother didn’t even know she had Covid — she barely had any symptoms, they said.
‘She tested positive and now three days later she is dead. She wasn’t even old, only 54. It’s a terrible tragedy.’
Another added: ‘They were hard-working people and they kept the house beautiful. The front yard was always in perfect condition.’
Police have closed the street since the mother’s body was found and no traffic is allowed.
Neighbors were concerned that they were about to be quarantined, but police at the scene have told them it’s not necessary.
Ramsin Shawka, 27, (pictured with partner) was also part of the movers team and has since tested positive
Police have closed the street (pictured) since the discovery of the mother’s body and no traffic is allowed
Another neighbor added: ‘We’re in lockdown anyway, so it won’t matter much.’
Three family members living and isolated in the house, which is located in Sydney’s Covid ‘epicentre’ to the southwest, were ordered to their cars after police made the grim discovery.
The trio, a woman and two men, were told to quarantine while the investigation into the woman’s death continued.
They were split into three cars where they waited from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for the victim’s body to be removed from the house.
Three family members living and isolated in the house, which is located in Sydney’s Covid ‘epicentre’ in the southwest, were ordered to their cars after police made the grim discovery
White vans lined the street late into the afternoon as authorities in personal protective equipment came and went.
All the while, the woman’s devastated relatives were ordered to stay in their cars to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus.
At one point, authorities used speakerphones to communicate with the trio, who were all wearing face masks, even in the cars.
After being in their car for about six hours, they were told to return home.
The entire street was declared a crime scene around 9:30 am and two police cars stopped at 5:00 pm.
Following the grim discovery, residents of nearby homes were reportedly told that the entire street has been placed under “harsh closure” as the investigation into the death continues.
A report is being prepared for the coroner and the investigation continues.
One of the cousins of the family was among those who were rejected and comforted by neighbors. Seen here is a police officer in full PPE on site
The four-man movers were already in Orange when NSW Health called to inform Roni that he had tested positive for the highly contagious Indian Delta strain.
Police allege the crew continued to drive to Molong, further west, to complete their delivery before being escorted home by police after two more of the men tested positive.
The twins and Shanki have now been charged with violating public health regulations and will appear in Orange Local Court on August 30.
But Roni, who moved to Australia from Iraq, has said they are not at fault and hadn’t known he was Covid positive.
“Of course I feel very bad, I feel very bad for what I’ve done, but it’s not my fault. I was driving and he called me from the health department, he told me to stop working and go home, I was already in Orange,” Roni told the Daily Telegraph.
Roni Shawka, 27, (pictured with partner) says he didn’t know he had Covid when he and a team of movers drove to regional NSW
“I gave them my boss’s number, I told them my language isn’t that good. I didn’t kill anyone… I was doing my job, I swear to god I didn’t know I was positive.”
The men each face a $11,000 fine and up to six months in prison.
The movers, who work as outside contractors for a large company in western Sydney, drove to Figtree near Wollongong for a job on Thursday.
Their employer Aram Yousif then told them to get tested for Covid-19 under new restrictions put in place by the NSW government.
The new measures require ‘essential workers’ from Fairfield, Liverpool and the Canterbury-Bankstown areas to undergo regular tests if they want to leave their local government areas – now the epicenter of the Sydney outbreak, which has risen to 1,242 infections.
After undergoing tests under these rules, workers are only required to isolate themselves if they have symptoms, something all men say they have not experienced.
After taking their exams, the movers left Sydney at 4am the next day, driving on the M4 from West Hoxton to Molong, stopping at South Bowenfels and Orange.
The family was loved on their street and regularly parked their truck along the side of the house. Here is the exterior of the family home in Green Valley in Sydney’s southwest zuidwesten
The four-man movers were already in Orange when NSW Health called to inform Roni that he had tested positive for the highly contagious Indian Delta strain. Here is a map of their route to see
At 9:36am, Roni Shawka’s phone rang, but as the language barrier presented a challenge, he told the NSW Health employee to contact his boss, Mr Yousif.
Mr. Yousif got the call instructing him to tell Roni to isolate himself in the cab of their moving van.
He claims that there was no mention of what to do with the other men, who showed no symptoms.
“These guys didn’t break any rules. We just followed the instructions, we didn’t do anything wrong by the public… but whatever a court decides, we will accept,” he said.
Shortly after leaving the track in regional NSW, Ramsin Shawka and Maryo Shanki also returned with positive tests.
At this point, NSW Health ordered a police escort to lead the group back to western Sydney.