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Difficulty in Breathing, Fever : Characteristics of Mysterious Illness That Killed 17 Children In Kilifi

Malindi sub-county hospital in Kilifi County where one of the children died. [PHOTO/ COURTESY]

Medics in Kilifi are unable to explain what illness claimed the lives of 17 children between March 2 and March 22, 2020, media reports indicate.

According to reports by the Standard, the illness was characterised by difficulty in breathing, a fever, general body weakness, and a dry mild cough.

Zacharia Opollo, one of the parents, says that he lost his daughter, Miriam Ndede (one-and-a-half years old) in under 24 hours of falling sick.

On the night of March 3, his daughter developed complications with breathing and he rushed her to a private hospital where she was treated and discharged.

The same night, the condition worsened and she was rushed to the same hospital where she was referred to Malindi sub-County Hospital after tests failed to reveal the sickness.

Read: Coronavirus: A Consignment Of Masks, Testing Kits and Protective Suits Donated By Chinese Billionaire Jack Ma Arrive In Kenya

At Malindi sub-county hospital she was immediately admitted to the High Dependency Unit but passed on at 4am.

Another parent, Alfred Ouma says that he lost his 8-month-old daughter under the exact same conditions.

“She died in less than 24 hours and the diagnosis they gave was pneumonia,” says Mr Ouma.

The characteristics are similar to those of coronavirus (covid-19), though it is yet to be confirmed with medics suspecting acute pneumonia.

Read: Kenyan Man Living In The US Succumbs To Coronavirus

“Over the last two weeks, we have seen children with similar presentations of sickness,” one of the health workers in Kilifi disclosed to The Standard adding that the children died in a matter of hours.

“We are puzzled, we don’t know whether there is something at the hospitals that is affecting these children and interfering with their treatment process,” the health worker further stated.

Kilifi has been earmarked as one of the 14 high-risk counties prone to rapid spread of coronavirus.

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Written by Francis Muli

Follow me on Twitter @francismuli_. Email

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