Covid didn't kill my baby - grieving mom

31 August 2020 | Health

JEMIMA BEUKES

WINDHOEK



Lavinia Kanyumbo, the mother of three-month-old Shiloh-Dean Ponhele, who was announced as Namibia's youngest recorded coronavirus-related death over the weekend, is disputing the health ministry's version of how her baby died.

She is adamant that his condition deteriorated after he was given an immunisation injection by a student nurse and that the family has been battling for over a week to get answers on the cause of death from the ministry, before hearing on Saturday via social media that he was allegedly a Covid-19-related fatality. Even more strange, Kanyumbo said, is the way the burial was handled.According to her, relatives were allowed to “identify” the child at the state mortuary, despite claims that it was a Covid-19 death.

“We were allowed near the grave for the burial. That really hurt me, because in my house there are little children and we were not even quarantined or sensitised. Ever since the body of the baby was collected, we have not received any call or visit from health officials,” she said. She added the officials who buried her child and “vanished” without explaining anything.



'Routine immunisation'

Health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula announced the baby's death on Saturday as a Covid-related fatality, saying the infant was presented to a local health facility on 17 August with symptoms that included loss of appetite and vomiting.





He said the baby was also due for a routine immunisation, which was administered.

“The baby later developed a fever and died at home on 21 August. He was swabbed posthumously on 24 August and the results came out as positive on 26 August,” Shangula said on Saturday.

But yesterday, when called for comment on Kanyumbo's allegations, the health minister said they are investigating the matter and, as such, he cannot say anything more at this stage.

“I cannot give you any response now, because we are still investigating. The team should meet by tomorrow and they will provide a report,” he said.



'He died in my arms'

Kanyumbo said her son was attended to by a student nurse at the Hakahana clinic in Windhoek, where he was given an injection which caused his leg to “jump” as if he had suffered an electrical shock.



“He was perfectly fine when we took him to the Hakahana clinic,” she said, adding that after the injection was administered, the baby was in a lot of pain and could no longer move his leg.



She said her son's fever spiked after the immunisation, but she dismissed it as a usual side-effect.



The baby's fever got worse over the next four days, fluctuating between 38 and 39 degrees, but dropped sharply hours before his death.



“On the evening of 20 August, he became very quiet and around 05:00 the next morning, he died in my arms.”







No Covid symptoms



Kanyumbo further accused the health ministry of being dismissive and refusing to give them answers relating to the child's death.



She also vehemently denies the symptoms cited by the health ministry in its Covid-19 update.



“I haven't mentioned vomiting or a loss of appetite. Imagine, my son died on 21 August and the death is announced on social media while the family is trying to get answers from the ministry. Even when the police came to get the body, they tried to steer the conversation into Covid-19, even though there were no symptoms or indication that the child had Covid-19,” she said.



The baby's death certificate lists no cause of death, and states his relationship to Kanyumbo as unknown.



“We were trying the whole week to find out what exactly the child died of,” she said.







[email protected]

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