Lugaliki Mogusu and Kibati

Dr Doreen Adisa Lugaliki, who died on July 10, 2020; Dr Stephen Mogusu, is pictured in hospital while undergoing treatment for Covid-19 and Captain Daudi Kimuyu Kibati.

| File | Nation Media Group

Behind the Covid death count are loved ones gone too soon

What you need to know:

Loved ones watched as their brothers, sisters, wives, husbands, grandmothers and granddaughters died hours after contacting the coronavirus or as they wasted away in hospital ICUs struggling to breathe.

Death has rarely so shaped a year as it did in the last 264 days. 

The dead include politicians and pastors, toddlers and the elderly, teachers and students, pilots and boda boda riders.

They came from every level of society, every county and every age.

Covid-19 burial in Meru

Public health officials bury a person who died of Covid-19 at Antuanthenge village in Meru County.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Often, those they left behind had no idea how they had contracted Covid-19. Loved ones watched as their brothers, sisters, wives, husbands, grandmothers and granddaughters died hours after contacting the coronavirus or as they wasted away in hospital ICUs struggling to breathe.

The nightmare began on March 26, 2020, the day the Ministry of Health declared first Covid-19 death. Maurice Barasa Namiinda, a 66-year-old engineer, who had diabetes, became the first person in the country to die of Covid-19.

Some of engineer Maurice Namiinda relatives are pictured during his funeral ceremony in Kitale, Trans Nzoia County

Namiinda, who worked for GIBB, an international engineering and environmental consultancy company, had arrived in the country from South Africa via Swaziland.

In just 12 months, the number of the dead has swelled – now heading towards 1,900 and families are grieving in ways that would have seemed unthinkable just months ago. Spouses died within days of each other while some families lost as many as five people.

Health officials in protective clothes bury the body of Anthony Waswa on May 19, 2020.

Among the dead were the elderly, in the sunset of the lives. Then, there were those who were starting new chapters in their lives — rediscovered love, parenthood, new careers.

Although the first Covid-19 infection was recorded on March 12, 2020, the first fatality was announced on March 26, 2020. For a week, the country remained with no recorded coronavirus death, until April 2, when two more cases were announced.

By May 16, the number had reached 50 and 100 about a month later, on June 13.

In the one year of Covid-19 in Kenya, the worst period was in November last year when the country registered the highest number of deaths averaging about 20 a day.

University of Nairobi lecturer Ken Ouko burial

On November 11, the country recorded the highest number of Covid-19 deaths in a single day – 26 -- followed by November 13 with 25 deaths and November 10 recording 24 fatalities.

Since the first recorded case, it’s only on 60 days when there was not a single death from Covid-19.

The third patient to die was known as Ursula Bumula, a 58-year-old Kenya Ports Authority worker. The mother of two was said to have had an underlying health condition.

The youngest among the fatalities in those early days was a six-year-old boy with an underlying health condition. The boy and his family had just travelled back from India where he had been taken for treatment.

Here are some of the ones we lost.

The doctors who died

In July, the bubbly Doreen Adisa Lugaliki, a 38-year-old gynaecologist, became the first doctor in Kenya to die of Covid-19, leaving behind her twins.

Dr Ouma Oluga, the former doctors’ union official, recalls that Adisa was just beginning to get deeper into her career as a gynaecologist when she died of the virus at her workplace -- the Nairobi South Hospital.

The medics who attended Adisa’s burial eulogised the mother of two as a selfless hero who died after contracting coronavirus while in the line of duty.

Brilliant, selfless, dedicated consultant obstetrician, her death came at the peak of her career and barely two months after she celebrated her 39th birthday.

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Public health officers carry the casket bearing the remains of Dr Doreen Adisa Lugaliki at her parent’s home in Ndalu, Bungoma County, on July 13, 2020. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

At the age of 28, Stephen Mogusu was the breadwinner for his wife and his five-month-old baby. Mogusu was also a doctor, in the frontline of the fight against the virus.

He had just been employed as a doctor at the Machakos Level Five Hospital’s Covid-19 isolation centre.

Mogusu had worked for the government for five months without pay, he had no insurance and his family was not eligible for any compensation.

“How could this be? We are still waiting to see if we will receive the salary for the months that he worked,” said his mother Agnes Mogusu.

Other doctors who died of Covid-19 included dental surgeon Nira Patel, a specialist in orthodontics, Anthony Were Omolo, a nephrologist and the head of the renal unit at the Kenyatta National Hospital, Emarah Ashraf, Hudson Alumera, Jackline Njoroge, Faith Mbuba, Daniel Alushula, Robert Ayisi, and Vladmir Schukin.

Dr Robert Ayisi.

Ashraf was a plastic surgeon at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) while Alumera was an implant surgeon and consultant periodontist at the University of Nairobi School of Dental Sciences.

Marian Awuor Adumbo, who spent her career caring for others, was the first nurse to die as a result of Covid-19.

Families that saw several relatives perish

In August, Aisha Langoni, the first-born daughter of veteran Coast politician Ramadhan Kajembe was buried at the Kwa Shee cemetery in Mikindani, next to the fresh graves of her father and mother.

Langoni succumbed to the virus at the Pandya Memorial Hospital in Mombasa where she had been admitted after she collapsed on learning of her father’s death.

The body of the former Changamwe MP Ramadhan Kajembe leaves Pandya Hospital for burial at his home in Kwa Shee on August 8, 2020.

The family of the former Changamwe MP recorded three Covid-19 deaths in a month. Langoni’s death came only two weeks after that of her father, and a month after the death of her mother Aziza to Covid-19.

In Bungoma County, the virus also claimed the lives of Wendy Kusienya, 30, and her sister Elizabeth Kusienya.

In November, Abagusii Culture and Development Council vice chairman Protus Nyansera died, barely a week after he lost his son, Edwin Omunywa and his wife, Mariana Nyansera. Mr Nyansera and his wife died as a result of Covid-19 complications.

Pilots died evacuating stranded Kenyans

Kenya Airways’ Captain Daudi Kimuyu Kibati, 66, was on a rescue flight to bring back stranded Kenyans in New York when he caught the virus and died.

A retired major of the Kenya Air Force, Kibati was in charge of the last Kenya Airways flight from New York to Nairobi before the government ban on international flights took effect on March 26.

Kibati’s colleague Salah Salim Jeizan suffered the same fate on a flight to London. Jeizan, one of Kenya Airways’ most senior and experienced pilots, who was the senior captain of the B787 fleet, reportedly fell ill after arriving in London, where he was hospitalised and died.

The celebrities who died included comedian Charles Bukeko, known to many as Papa Shirandula, one of the country's best known TV actors.

Papa Shirandula

Charles Bukeko, popularly known as Papa Shirandula. 

Photo credit: File

In academia, University of Nairobi lecturer Ken Ouko also died of Covid-19.

In the corporate world, the notable fatalities included Doshi CEO Nilesh Doshi and Absa Deputy CEO Peter Matlare. 

Peter Matlare

Late Absa Plc deputy CEO Peter Matlare. 

Photo credit: File | Salaton Njau | Nation Media Group

In the political class, Matungu MP Justus Murunga and Tony Waswa, the brother of Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula and Westlands MP Timothy Wanyonyi, also died of Covid-19.

Some of the religious leaders who have died as a result of Covid-19 include Catholic Bishop Silas Njiru in Rome, Italy.