Friday, 17 July 2020


A nine-month-old baby from Maphisa in Matabeleland South Province who allegedly travelled to Bulawayo with her mother last week has died of Covid-19, becoming the first child in the country to succumb to the virus.

The baby was admitted to Maphisa District Hospital last Friday with severe pneumonia and died the following day.

It was only discovered that she had succumbed to Covid-19 after her death through a post-mortem and was buried on Wednesday at the family’s rural home in Silawa, Maphisa.

Preliminary investigations by the Ministry of Health and Child Care have shown that the child travelled to Bulawayo with her mother some time last week. 

The mother who lives in Garikai Houses in Maphisa has now been placed under isolation at her home.

Matabeleland South Provincial Medical Director, Dr Rudo Chikodzore said this was the first Covid-19 related death of a child recorded in the country.

“As Matabeleland South Province we recorded a Covid-19 death of a nine-month-old female baby from Maphisa area in Matobo District.

“The child died on Saturday at Maphisa District Hospital after she was admitted with severe pneumonia. A post-mortem was then conducted and it revealed that the child had succumbed to Covid-19. These results came in yesterday (Tuesday),” said Dr Chikodzore. 

“Investigations have shown that the child travelled to Bulawayo some time last week and upon returning she fell ill. This is a local transmission case. We have started making follow ups and we have informed authorities in Bulawayo and we are making follow ups to find the addresses of the people they visited while in Bulawayo.

“We are also tracing contacts within the local community. We have been recording cases of children testing positive for the pandemic across the country but this is the first death.”

In a statement released on Tuesday night, the Ministry of Health and Child Care said it regretted the baby’s death.

A senior health official who has been directly handling the matter said they have been struggling to get information from the bereaved family as they have not been co-operative. He said the authenticity of some of the information is questionable.

The official also said members of the family were also giving contradicting explanations on issues surrounding the death of the baby and the travel history.

“This family has been giving us problems when it comes to supplying us with information as they are not forthcoming.

“It might take us longer to gather all the details as we also have to consider that this is a bereaved family and we have to be patient with them,” said the official on condition of anonymity.

The mother of the late child said her daughter was buried under strict supervision by Ministry of Health and Child Care officers and there were about 20 people. She said the burial was conducted in line with the Covid-19 regulations.

The woman said she had been placed under isolation at her home for the next 14 days, but had not yet been tested for Covid-19. She said she was advised to contact health officials once she experiences any pain.

The bereaved mother said she however, does not believe that her child succumbed to Covid-19 as reported by health officials. She also said they had not travelled to Bulawayo as alleged.

“My child was born with an asthma problem and when I took her to hospital, she had experienced an asthma attack. Unfortunately, she died the following day and all I know is that it was because of an asthma attack and not Covid-19.

“I don’t understand how my child could have contracted this virus as we have not been mobile since the outbreak was reported and the lockdown was introduced,” she said.
“We stay in Maphisa and that’s where we have remained over the past months without travelling.

“We last travelled to Bulawayo before the lockdown came into effect. My husband has been away for some time.

“I don’t understand how they could say my child succumbed to the pandemic. I’m not aware that my child was tested for Covid-19 or that a post-mortem was conducted.” Chronicle


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