Pain as families lose 7 relatives to coronavirus bite
Oliver Musembi and Mathew Ndung’u
Fears are emerging that the deadly Delta variant of coronavirus is quickly spreading through community transmission as it continues to leave devastating trails in families.
The variant, which marks the fourth wave of the pandemic which first struck the country in March last year, is ravaging families, with some reporting deaths of up to four relatives within less than two weeks while hundreds are fighting for their lives in congested hospitals, including in Intensive Care Units (ICU).
The latest victims are two families, one in Mukurwe, Gatanga, in lower Murang’a County and another in Gikambura in Kiambu County, which are yet to come to terms with the loss of a combined seven relatives in the last 10 days to the deadly variant.
James Mwangi, from Murang’a, said his grandmother, father, uncle and another close relative had succumbed to the virus that has gobbled up more than Sh500, 000 of the family savings in medical bills.
And now, Murang’a County Health department is considering pushing for a total lockdown of two villages, Mukurwe-ini and Njai-ini, after it emerged that about 31 Covid-19 patients from the localities have been admitted to the Murang’a district referral hospital, 14 of them in ICU.
“For the past two weeks, there has been a spike of Covid-19 cases and even fatalities in the above localities.
In view of the above, all bars be closed with immediate effect, all eateries and restaurants to strictly adhere to the guidelines given by the Ministry of Health and worship places observe the 30 per cent capacity rule and maintain physical distance,” reads a letter from the department to the county commissioner.
Mwangi told People Daily that on July 2, he and his father Wilson Kung’u had attended the burial of a close family friend in Kiria-ini, Mathioya.
The father, Mwangi said, had been ailing for some time, and suddenly while at the funeral, became weak and could not walk.
They rushed him to a health facility in Kiria-ini township, where he was treated and discharged but the doctor who attended him advised the family to have him tested for Covid.
Two days later, his health deteriorated and he was again rushed to a health facility in Thika where after several tests including scans were done, it was revealed that he had contracted Covid-19.
“The virus had eaten up 80 per cent of his lungs. We were advised to get him an ICU bed as soon as we could.
We first rushed him to Outspan Hospital in Nyeri but we were told they could not admit him,” Mwangi said.
The results plunged the family into a panic, and they all had to be tested for the virus, and six of them turned positive.
According to them, they suspect one of the family members had contracted the virus and spread it to others.
His father and his brother Samuel Ndung’u were referred to Murang’a Level Five Hospital where the former died the following day and the uncle was admitted to the ICU for 10 days.
The uncle died on Friday last week, a day after Kung’u (the father) was buried.
While Kung’u and Ndung’u were fighting for their lives at the hospital, whose ICU unit was full to capacity, their grandmother, Julia Wambui, who was among those who had tested positive to the virus, also died.
“Our grandmother was overwhelmed by having two of her sons admitted in ICU, and also given her age, she was more vulnerable,” Mwangi said.
“We are being treated like outcasts. There is too much stigmatisation towards our family and others who have contracted the disease.
People have been avoiding coming to our home to console us and we have had to face the harsh reality and accept what has happened,” he added.
“The other members who tested positive are under home-based care and are responding well to treatment, he said.
The family sought audience with the county executive officer for health Joseph Mbai seeking to have the bill of Sh116, 000, which the deceased had accrued, waived.
“The county has agreed to waive Sh100, 000 and this will make things easy for us in planning for the burials,” Mwangi noted.
Three other people from the neighbouring Njai-ini sub-location have also reportedly succumbed to the disease. In the Kikuyu family, the deaths occurred at an interval of four days.
On July 18, Susan Wanjiku from Gikambura village succumbed to the variant 10 days after she tested positive for Covid-19 at Tigoni Hospital.
Four days later on July 22, Victoria, her daughter-in-law, also died.
And on July 27, Charles Muthiora, a renowned freelance corporate photographer who will be laid to rest today in his Gikambura home, also succumbed.
He breathed his last at the Care Hospital in Eastleigh where he was transferred to from Tigoni Hospital after testing positive for the disease.
Njihia Anthony, a brother-in-law, regrets that Muthiora should have tested for the disease the day he had Wanjiku, his 43-year-old wife, admitted to hospital.
“I wish he had been screened for coronavirus the day we took his wife to hospital.
After returning home from the hospital, Muthiora started complaining of severe headache, body pains and shortness of breath. We didn’t waste time.
We took him to Tigoni hospital immediately where he also tested positive for Covid,” Njihia told People Daily by telephone yesterday.
At the Tigoni hospital, however, he could not be admitted, as there were no beds. This situation forced them to take him to Care Hospital in Eastleigh where he was admitted until his death last Tuesday.
Crazy hospital bill
The family ran several business enterprises including pig and poultry farming, which was Wanjiku’s daily task.
“In fact that’s what the husband was rushing home to do... to feed their animals with the hope that the wife would be back from hospital alive to continue with her business,” Njihia said.
“Covid 19 is real, especially the Delta Indian variant. We lost his mother on the 18th, his wife who is my sister on 22nd and we lost him on 27th July after being in ICU for 12 days. We have got a bill of Sh1.3 million.
The funeral will be on Tuesday 3rd August. We will be fundraising on Sunday 1st August, to help clear an outstanding hospital bill,” Njihia said on Facebook.
Njihia’s sister complained of a persistent and severe headache on July 21, and in the evening she was admitted to hospital.
She passed on the following day as the mother-in-law was being laid to rest.