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Bomet's first Covid-19 victim buried at night - VIDEO

Thursday May 14 2020

VITALIS KIMUTAI
By VITALIS KIMUTAI
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As Bomet residents were retreating to their homes to beat the 7 pm curfew on Wednesday night, a Land Rover ferrying the remains of the County's first Covid-19 case was making its way to Kagawet village in Itembe Location, Chepalungu where he would later be buried.

County public health officers presided over the burial of 55-year-old Erick Kosgei in accordance with protocols set by the Ministry of Health (MoH).

A few relatives who had not come in contact with the deceased witnessed the burial while the rest of his family was in quarantine.

The burial was conducted at around 7 pm Wednesday night in a ceremony that lasted only a few minutes.

Villagers are said to have earlier in the day been requested to help in digging a grave for the deceased as 16 of his relatives are holed up in quarantine at Kaplong Girls High School in Sotik Sub-county.

A few pictures taken by those who witnessed the burial and shared on social media show public health officers dressed in white hazmat suits and other protective gear lowering the body to the grave as darkness engulfs the area.

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A Land Rover was used to transport the coffin under police escort from Longisa Hospital mortuary to the homestead for final burial rites.

The Nairobi-based businessman had travelled to Bomet County from Nairobi on Monday May 4 using a police vehicle secured by a relative. He was admitted at Longisa Hospital the same day before passed away the following day.

Mr Kosgei, 55, had a history of diabetes. He had travelled while ill.

Samples taken to Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) on May 5 after he died were finally released on May 12, and showed he had Covid-19.

As a result, 10 doctors and nurses who came in contact with the patient at Longisa Hospital have been placed under quarantine.

A total of 36 people, including 16 of his family members, are now in isolation.

It has emerged that 20 of those quarantined are doctors and nurses who handled the patient at Longisa county referral, and others who handled a second case that tested positive in Nairobi after being transferred from Tenwek hospital.

In the second case, a child from Baringo County who had been taken for eye treatment at Tenwek hospital was transferred to Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH), Nairobi last week and tested positive for coronavirus.

As a result, ten doctors at Tenwek Hospital who came in contact with the child before the referral have also been placed in quarantine as a precautionary measure.

QUESTIONS OVER TRAVEL

Mr Kosgei's travel has raised questions over why he used a police vehicle instead of an ambulance or private car from Nairobi to Bomet and whether clearance was sought from the Ministry.

“A police vehicle was secured by a relative who is policeman to transport the man from Nairobi. He had been undergoing treatment in Nairobi on and off for some time before the transfer to Longisa Referral Hospital,” said a family member who did not want to be named.

A relative to the deceased who had accompanied him to hospital had not been traced by public health officers by Wednesday afternoon.

The revelations were made even as questions were raised over why it took so long for Kemri to release the results of his test.

But according to County Executive in charge Medical Services and Public Health, Dr Joseph Sitonik, the tests were repeated to ascertain the results.
He also explained that it takes longer to conduct tests on a body that has been preserved.

“The process of testing samples from a patient is not the same as the one for a body which has been treated with preservatives,” said Dr Sitonik, adding that there was no delay in release of the results.

He also said the body had properly been preserved at the mortuary in line with protocols from MoH ahead of its disposal.

LIED TO DOCTORS

As more details surrounding his illness and death began to emerge, Bomet Governor Hillary Barchok warned residents against withholding crucial information from doctors on their recent travels.

He revealed that as a result of Mr Kosgei's non-disclosure, many people including doctors, nurses, mortuary attendants, patients and members of the public have been put at risk of contracting the virus.

“Sadly, family members of the patient lied to doctors at Longisa Hospital that he had not travelled out of Bomet...that he had been brought direct from his rural home for treatment,” he said.

He said the county would take charge of the burial arrangements to ensure the family follows laid down health protocols on disposal of bodies for Covid-19 cases.

The county government, he added, will push for disciplinary action against the police officer for his actions which had exposed many others to Covid-19.