Devastated son loses father, 73, mother, 65, and brother, 40, to Covid

Covid wipes out anti-vaxxer family: Son loses father, 73, mother, 65, and brother, 40, to virus within a week after a family meal after they refused the jab

  • Francis Goncalves, 43, lost three family members in one week due to Covid-19 after they refused the vaccine
  • His brother, Shaul, 40, father Basil, 73, and mother, Charmagne, 65, died in Portugal last month due to Covid
  • He said all three had fallen victim to ‘anti-vaccination propaganda’, conspiracy theories and ‘misinformation’

A heartbroken son from a family of anti-vaxxers has revealed how his mother, father and brother all died of Covid within the space of a week, after they refused to get the coronavirus vaccine.

Francis Goncalves suffered the devastating triple loss of his brother Shaul, 40, father, Basil, 73, and mother, Charmagne, 65, last month.

The 43-year-old, who lives in Cardiff, says all three refused the Covid jab after falling victim to ‘anti-vaccination propaganda’ and ‘misinformation’.

Now Francis, who believes the virus spread through his family during a meal in Portugal, is pleading with others to avoid ‘falling into the trap’ of Covid conspiracies.

He said: ‘They (my family) got caught up in a lot of the anti-vaccination propaganda that’s going around. It preys on people who are afraid and they fall into the trap. 

‘The message I want to get out is why would the government want to hurt you by giving you a vaccine? What is the purpose behind it?

‘I’ve spoken to so many people who are terrified of the vaccine and it costs lives.’ 

Francis said that, while his mother had underlying health issues and his father had been in hospital with kidney stones, he was particularly shocked by the death of his brother, who described as the ‘healthiest person’ he knew.

He said he believes the vaccine would have saved his brother’s life, adding: ‘If he wasn’t working out in the gym or running, he was going on walks.  He hadn’t drunk in 15 years and ate a whole foods plant-based diet.’

Francis’ tragedy is the latest in a line of anti-vaxxer deaths, including the likes of super-fit rock climbing and bodybuilding enthusiast John Eyers, 42, who died of Covid after refusing the jab.

It also comes as the Government continues to ramp up pressure on young people to get the Covid jab, amid fears uptake could slow, despite more than two-thirds of those aged 18 to 29 already having had a first dose. 

Francis Goncalves (pictured with his family) suffered the devastating triple loss of his brother Shaul, 40, father, Basil, 73, and mother, Charmagne, 65, last month

The 43-year-old (pictured), who lives in Cardiff, says his family members refused the Covid jab after falling victim to ‘anti-vaccination propaganda’ and ‘misinformation’ 


Francis said that, while his mother had underlying health issues and his father had been in hospital with kidney stones, he was particularly shocked by the death of his brother, who described as the ‘healthiest person’ he knew. He said he believes the vaccine would have saved his brother’s life, adding: ‘If he wasn’t working out in the gym or running, he was going on walks. He hadn’t drunk in 15 years and ate a whole foods plant-based diet.’

Francis’ family (pictured: His mother Charmagne and father Basil) were all in Portugal at the time of their deaths. He said they all began to feel unwell on the weekend of July 10, a few days after having a meal together

SAGE estimates the R rate — which shows how quickly the virus is spreading — is between 0.8 and 1.1. It means that, on average, every 10 people infected will infect between 8 and 11 other people

Francis’ family were all in Portugal at the time of their deaths. They began to feel unwell on the weekend of July 10, a few days after having a meal together.

He said he believed his father picked up Covid while in hospital receiving treatment for kidney stones days before. 

Francis said: ‘On Thursday, July 8, my parents had dinner at my brother’s apartment he shares with his girlfriend and they started to feel very ill that weekend. On the Monday, my brother’s girlfriend said Shaul could feel something was wrong.

‘He said he’d never felt anything like it, that he felt like he was filled with weight and that he was tired. He decided to get a test for Covid and they tested positive.

‘My parents were really ill at the time as well. They went through to the hospital and I had a text from my father that afternoon saying they’ve been admitted into the hospital because they have both tested positive. That was on July 12.’

With Francis being so far away in Cardiff, he said it became difficult to get hold of his parents.

But on Wednesday, July 14 he discovered his father – who has underlying health issues – had been moved to the intensive care unit (ICU). 

From that point on each family member started to deteriorate, so Francis made plans to fly over to be with them in Portugal.

He said: ‘I spoke to my brother every day and we couldn’t get hold of my father. He had a little bit of battery life available on his phone on the Tuesday morning and I managed to ask him how he was doing, but then he didn’t have a charger. 

‘It was very difficult for me to get hold of him in a country I couldn’t speak the language.

‘My brother was finding it frustrating to get in touch with my parents as well, but he managed to get through to my mother on the Wednesday, which was when my father was put into an induced coma and moved to ICU.

‘Meanwhile [my brother’s] mucus had changed from green to brown and I told him to be very careful because that could be a sign of pneumonia. 

‘From then, he deteriorated and when I managed to speak to him, I could tell there was definitely something wrong with him. I started pushing my plans to get up there faster.’

But heartbreakingly, as Francis waited for the Covid test results he needed to be able to fly out to Portugal, he received a text saying his brother had been rushed to hospital.

Francis (pictured with his family) said he believed his father picked up Covid while in hospital receiving treatment for kidney stones days before


With Francis being so far away in Cardiff, he said it became difficult to get hold of his parents (pictured left: His mother Charmagne). But on Wednesday, July 14 he discovered his father (pictured right) – who has underlying health issues – had been moved to the intensive care unit (ICU). From that point on each family member started to deteriorate, so Francis made plans to fly over to be with them in Portugal.

‘On the Saturday (July 17) I had a message at 8.08pm to say Shaul had been rushed off to hospital in an ambulance,’ he said. ‘I spoke to his girlfriend and she was really worried. Then, at about 1am I received a call from her saying she had been told he had passed away that evening.’ 

With his brother being Francis’ only means of contacting his parents, he had to get hold of a law firm in Portugal to help him out. The firm contacted the hospital on his behalf and passed on his contact details.

Devastatingly, on Tuesday, July 20 the hospital called Francis to say his father had also died.

The next day, Francis finally managed to get a flight up to Portugal to see his mother and to make arrangements for his dad and brother. 

When he arrived, he discovered his mother – who had a number of underlying health issues, including an autoimmune disease – was struggling to cope with the virus.

Francis said: ‘On the Wednesday, I travelled through to Portugal after getting my PCR test results and I managed to find out more about my mother. She was also in an induced coma. 

‘They allowed me to go and see her which was already a sign that things weren’t going well and I had to dress up in full PPE.

‘Then on the Saturday, JuIy 24, I received a phone call from the doctor saying they were in a situation where they had tried everything and the next couple of hours would be critical. Later that evening, I received a call to say she had passed away.’

A week later, on Sunday, August 1, all three members of the family were buried next to each other at a cemetery in Lisbon called Sao Joao, where a section is dedicated to Covid-related deaths.

Francis said: ‘[They were buried] where all the Covid bodies are buried. It’s allocated and marked off. They said the entire time during Covid they’d never had three bodies brought in together from the same family.

‘I asked about exhuming the bodies at a later date and moving them somewhere outside a dedicated Covid zone, as it didn’t represent my family. 

‘But they said that unfortunately not knowing enough about Covid there is no intention of moving them ever. It was really terrible.’

Francis, who returned home from Portugal on Friday, said his experience had been incredibly painful. He said his family was ‘small and close’ but that his mum, dad and brother had all positively impacted the lives of many others around them.

Francis said he grew up in South Africa and that his brother helped the family to move to Cardiff in 2015 to escape violence in the region. 

A year later, his parents and brother moved to Portugal, where his father was originally from.

Describing his family, he said: ‘My father gave everything. He would wear broken shoes so we could have the best they could get. 

Francis, who returned home from Portugal on Friday, said his experience had been incredibly painful. He said his family (pictured: Francis with his brother and father) was ‘small and close’ but that his mum, dad and brother had all positively impacted the lives of many others around them


Francis described his brother (pictured left with his mother) as his ‘best friend’ and said he ran a YouTube channel called Animation Deconstructed. He said his mother Charmagne (pictured right) was a ‘mother hen’ who would ‘do anything for us’

‘I found a bible he carried around with him when I was in Lisbon and I opened it up and saw a bookmark and it was a picture of my mum when she was in her 20s.

‘I could see that he loved her and she loved him. He never knew his father, but he always tried to be something more. 

‘My mother was a mother hen and she’d do anything for us. I remember my brother started a little printing company and couldn’t get much work so my mother started selling things of hers so she could help him out.

‘My brother was my best friend. He started a YouTube channel called Animation Deconstructed where he would talk people through animation and it was picking up slowly, but the greatest and worst part about it is it’s now gone crazy. 

‘This was his thing and the career he wanted and he never got to see it.

‘He always looked out for the best interests of people around him and he wanted to teach people. He spend time helping people and wouldn’t ask for anything in return.

‘That was the same with my father, he would go to people’s places and help fixed things for them. I was and am still proud of my family.’

Francis said as he has grieved for his three closest family members over the last few weeks, his time has been spent dealing with attorneys, funeral homes and hospitals.

He said it had been been a ‘rollercoaster’ going from one thing to the next.

He said: ‘I went over to Portugal with the intention of looking after our parents after hearing my brother was ill. It’s literally been a push from one day to the next to get things done, but you just have to sort it out and get it done.

‘You’re just gritting your teeth and pushing through and if you manage to get a pause, it becomes a flood of emotion. 

‘I’m very lucky that my friends have offered their time to chat, the support has definitely helped me. My wife and my extended family on both sides also supported me.

‘I’m at home now and I know everything is going to sink in a lot faster because I don’t need to rush through things so much.  I’m going to have time to focus on what’s happened so I expect to be quite overwhelmed.’ 

Francis’ tragedy comes after the death of rock climbing and body building enthusiast John Eyers, 42, to Covid

After his death, his twin sister tragically revealed he had refused the vaccine because he thought he would be OK if he caught the virus.

Mr Eyers, a construction expert from Southport, Merseyside, had been climbing the Welsh mountains and wild camping one month before his death last week, which came exactly four weeks after he tested positive.

His twin sister Jenny McCann from London said he was the ‘fittest, healthiest person I know’ and had thought he would only have a ‘mild illness’ if he contracted coronavirus, adding that he had a ‘belief in his own immortality’. Mrs McCann said that Mr Eyers had ‘no underlying health conditions’ but did also state that he had asthma.

John Eyers, 42, had been climbing the Welsh mountains and wild camping one month before his death from Covid last week

Before going onto a ventilator in hospital, Mr Eyers told his consultant that he wished he had been vaccinated, his sister said

In May, his sister Jenny McCann had tweeted a selfie after getting her first jab, saying: ‘Full on tears after getting Covid jab’


Construction expert Mr Eyers was described by his sister Jenny McCann as the ‘fittest, healthiest person I know’

Mr Eyers, of Southport, Merseyside, leaves behind his parents and a daughter aged 19 as well as his twin sister Jenny

Before going onto a ventilator in hospital, Mr Eyers told his consultant that he wished he had been vaccinated – and died in intensive care after suffering from an infection and organ failure, leaving behind a daughter aged 19. 

Mr Eyers, who died on July 27 at Southport & Ormskirk Hospital, was described by Mrs McCann last month when he was still alive as a ‘staunch anti-vaxxer’. She added that the family had ‘all fallen out with him over his stance’.

The mother-of-two posted a series of tweets about Mr Eyers this week, saying: ‘My 42-year-old old twin brother died in ITU (intensive treatment unit) of Covid-19 last week. He died exactly four weeks after testing positive.

‘He was the fittest, healthiest person I know. He was climbing Welsh mountains and wild camping four weeks before his death. The only pre-existing health condition he had was the belief in his own immortality.

‘He thought if he contracted Covid-19 he would be OK. He thought he would have a mild illness. He didn’t want to put a vaccine on his body. His was pumped full of every drug in the hospital. They threw everything at him. 

‘But eventually the bedfellow of Covid-19, infection and organ failure, claimed his life. Before he was ventilated he told his consultant that he wished he had been vaccinated. That he wished he had listened. His death is a tragedy.

‘It shouldn’t have happened. He leaves a mum and dad, a sister (me), and a 19-year-old daughter. My two children have lost their fun uncle. The Uncle who would always play with them. 

 ‘The uncle that dressed up as Father Christmas on Christmas Day. My mum has lost her baby boy. My niece, her much loved and needed Dad.

‘This shouldn’t have happened. My mum wants people to know about John. For his story to save someone’s life. For pain and loss to drive people to get a vaccine.’

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