Covid-19: Serious lapse in handling body causes 7 infections

Friday May 22 2020

Siaya KMTC campus where the mourners from Nairobi were isolated. PHOTO | ONDARI OGENGA | NATION MEDIA GROUP


The number of Covid-19 cases increased in Siaya County after seven more cases were reported on Thursday.

In his daily briefing, Health CS Mutahi Kagwe said all the cases were traced to Kibera.

The seven patients, who are receiving treatment at the Bondo Sub-County Hospital, were part of a group of 12 mourners that transported the body of a Covid-19 victim from Kibera, Nairobi to Ugenya for burial last Friday.

Nation has established that the mourners were not accompanied by any health personnel from Nairobi, in what exposes serious lapses in the transportation and handling of bodies of Covid-19 victims.

A doctor, who is part of the team fighting Covid-19 in Siaya said it is possible that those who tested positive for the disease may have contacted the virus through improper handling of the body.

The mourners, armed with a letter from a Kibera chief authorising them to transport the body, they collected the body of Rose Odhiambo, 45, who succumbed to Covid-19 at the Kenyatta National Hospital last week and set off for the journey to her rural home in Ugenya.

But on Thursday the Health minister said the Sarang’ombe chief is not authorized to give a travel permit.

“The Siaya story is a sad one because the departure point is in Kibera where someone without the authority to sign a document authorized travel of the mourners who were themselves positive,” the CS said.

The group travelled in a 33-seater bus that allegedly had 12 people on board. They arrived in the village on Friday night and casket with the woman’s body was left in the bus overnight.

Ugenya Deputy County Commissioner Pamela Otieno told the Nation that the casket was properly disinfected before it was moved from the bus to the graveside.

She said the bus, the grave and the homestead were also disinfected before and after the burial.

The mourners from Nairobi were not allowed to mingle with the locals.

On Saturday morning, public health officials from Ugenya buried the body of the victim in an event that lasted ten minutes. The Nairobi mourners were taken to quarantine at at Siaya KMTC campus after the woman was laid to rest.

But some ran away after they discovered that they had to be isolated. They are yet to be traced.

While in isolation the group was tested for the new coronavirus. Samples were taken to Kemri lab in Kisumu. The positive results came out on Wednesday. The deceased’s son is among the mourners who tested positive.

This was the second Covid-19 victim to be buried in Siaya County.

The first victim was a former KPA employee who was buried in Kamalunga village, Ugenya on April 12. His burial sparked controversy because his body was wrapped in a bag and buried in the dead of the night.