Sunday 9 August 2020


ZIIMBABWE on Friday recorded its youngest Covid-19 death when a three-week-old baby died in Hwange, baffling health experts after it was discovered that both his parents had tested negative.

The death could be the second youngest in the world after a two-day-old baby died in South Africa in February, officials said. The Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that the baby was among the Covid-19 related deaths that were recorded between 3 and 5 August.

“Today we regret to report five deaths which occurred between 3 and 5 August 2020 in the community and on admission to the casualty department at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals and other hospitals after investigations and a post-mortem was done. These include two males and two females from Harare Province and a baby aged three weeks from Matabeleland North Province and had respiratory symptoms compatible with Covid-19 and the polymerase chain reaction (PRC) results were positive for Covid-19,” the Ministry said.

Matabeleland North Provincial Medical Director Dr Munekai Padingani told Sunday News yesterday that the baby was born to a young mother at St Patricks Hospital in Hwange with multiple congenital disorders (birth deformities).
“The baby was three weeks old and was born with congenital malformations and was sent to Mpilo Central Hospital for management there. The mother was told to wait for three to five months before the child could be operated on to correct the malformations. They also wanted the child to gain a bit of some weight before the operation was conducted,” he said.

Dr Padingani said the mother, after being discharged from Mpilo Central returned to Hwange with the baby a week ago and the child died at home. As per routine under the Covid-19 regulations, he said a specimen was collected from the body and tested positive for Covid-19. He, however, said initial tests had shown that the baby was born without the disease and the mother and father had tested negative to Covid-19.

“We did a rapid test on the mother and the father and they were both negative, so it means they were not in contact with the virus. They do not have antibodies against the virus. We have to do a PCR on them to further test them. But that hypothesis of saying the baby was born with the virus from the mother is out. Maybe the baby got infected elsewhere, that is my assumption,” said Dr Padingani.

He said since the baby was born with congenital malformations, he already had underlying health conditions which put him at high risk of succumbing to Covid-19.
“The baby had cleft palate, agenesis of the nasal septum, meaning that the separation between the nostrils of the baby was not there and the nose was very small. He also had anal malposition and low set ears. The baby had too many malformations at birth which also contributed to the death.”

The PMD said it was important that health workers practise high levels of caution to avoid getting infected or passing on the virus to their patients. Sunday News


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