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Decent burial for man after Covid-19 mistake

By Weldon Kipkemoi | November 4th 2020

It was an emotional moment for a family that exhumed the body of their kin that was wrongly profiled as a Covid-19 patient and hurriedly buried in Mombasa.

The body of Clinton Shilisia Wanjira was in April buried at Mombasa Mbaraki cemetery despite protests by the family that wanted to transport it to western Kenya.

Yesterday the family said it was relieved that the body of the 27-year-old university student will be laid to rest at their home in Lumakanda, Lugari, Kakamega County.

“I’m happy that it’s an end to the most painful six months of my life. My son will finally be laid to rest where his umbilical cord was buried,” said his mother Edith Wanjira.

Ms Wanjira described as torturous and costly the process of seeking orders and a team to conduct the burial, exhumation and re-burial- but said it was worth it. 

She said the family held prayers weekly at Clinton’s grave side. They also had the grave slab cleaned after paying the county levies.

“We had to pay every week to be allowed to clean the slab and uproot the weeds. It is nothing now that my son will get a decent burial,” she said.

Yesterday Mombasa County Officials briefly stopped the exhumation after it emerged that the family had not paid requisite fee of Sh26,000.

The county officials said families that wish to bury their loved ones at Mbaraki cemetery must pay burial or exhumation fees depending of the type of grave.

Wanjira explained that in April they paid the county government Sh25,000 to bury the body of Clinton at the cemetery and yesterday they parted with Sh26,000 to exhume the body.

Defended the steps

“We have incurred a lot of costs in the battle to take the body of my son home. We paid the private firm we hired to exhume the body,” said the mother.

The body was yesterday transported to Lumakanda for a re-burial. 

“We were not comfortable with the decision to bury him at a cemetery but we never stopped to believe that one day the remains of our son will go home,” Wanjira said.

The university student died on April 4 at Pandya Mombasa where he had been taken for treatment. The hospital profiled him as a possible Covid-19 patient.

Pandya Hospital Human Resource Manager Henry Muchiri defended the steps taken by the hospital saying it was for the good of the patients and staff.

“The allegation of stigmatisation of patient is baseless. He was attended to and referred to CPGH. This was for the good of our staff and other patients,” Dr Muchiri said then.

Wanjira noted that Clinton was first treated at Pandya Hospital on March 30 with respiratory problems and discharged.

On April 1, he was taken to the hospital again but the administration declined to admit him saying he was, likely suffering from Covid-19.

Pandya referred him to Coast Provincial General Hospital (CPGH) saying that it did not have the facility to admit suspected Covid-19 cases. He was treated at CPHG and discharged.

According to reference note wrote by Pandya to CGH an official depicted the deceased as infected with Covid-19.

“Referring above named patient to your facility as a Covid-19 suspect for testing and possible isolation as our facility is not fully prepared in his admission,” the letter read in part.

CPHG doctors ruled out Covid-19. He was diagnosed with a respiratory infection, treated and discharged. The doctors also took blood samples for tests.

On April 4, his condition worsened and was rushed to Pandya where doctors pronounced him dead on arrival. The body was moved to CPGH for preservation and later buried at the cemetery.

On April 8, the test results from Kenya Marine and Research Institute Nairobi revealed that Clinton did not contract Covid-19.

“The patient samples tested negative for SARS COV-2”, reads the report seen by The Standard. On September 9, the family moved to court to seek orders to exhume the body. On October 21 the court granted the exhumation order.

The family said it has written to the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board to demand for justice.

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