Argentina professor with COVID-19 symptoms dies during online lecture

The tragedy of the coronavirus pandemic hit home for students in Argentina as their college professor collapsed in the middle of an online lecture last week.

The New York Post reported that 46-year-old Paola De Simone passed away in front of her students while teaching a 20th Century World History class online.

De Simone, who taught at the Universidad Argentina de la Empresa in Buenos Aires, said she had been struggling to overcome symptoms of the coronavirus for several weeks and reportedly had told her students that she was having difficulty breathing shortly before she collapsed and died.

According to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, the coronavirus pandemic has hit Argentina particularly hard with more than 450,000 confirmed cases and more than 9,000 deaths since the pandemic began earlier in the year.

Students shocked

The Sun reported that, according to students in her class, De Simone had complained that she wasn’t feeling well and was having trouble breathing at the start of the class on Wednesday.

As the students watched her condition grow worse throughout the online lecture — including having difficulty speaking and operating slides — they began to plead with her to share her home address so that they could call an ambulance on her behalf, but she reportedly only managed to say “I can’t” before collapsing and losing consciousness.

The professor’s husband, a doctor, reportedly found her dead when he returned home. De Simone leaves behind her husband as well as a daughter, not mention hundreds of students and colleagues who held her in high regard for her abilities as a teacher.

“My classmates and I in class were the last ones she spoke to,” student Ana Breccia said, according to The Sun. “She began by saying that she had pneumonia, we saw it was worse than in previous classes. At one point she could not continue passing slides, nor speak and she became unbalanced.”

Another student referred to De Simone as an “unforgettable teacher,” while the university said in a statement that her death had brought “deep pain” to all of the faculty and staff at the school.

Died doing what she loved most

The Washington Post reported that one of De Simone’s friends, a former college classmate from Argentina who is now a journalist in New York, Silvina Sterin Pensel, was saddened but unsurprised that her friend had died while doing what she loved most: teaching others.

She said that De Simone’s death was a “sad reminder that the virus is real,” and pointed out that more people in Argentina are growing increasingly restless under the continued strict lockdown orders.

De Simone’s death is a tragedy, particularly for her students who watched it happen, and our prayers and well-wishes go out to all of those who are now in mourning over the loss.

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