BODY MILES AWAY

Family's dilemma over son killed by Covid-19 in US

International flights banned; state has ordered bodies disposed within 24 hours

In Summary

• Peter Juma, a Kenyan from Mombasa, succumbed to the virus on Saturday night.

• He was working as a bus driver in New York and had lived in the United States for about four years.

A Mombasa family is in agony over their son who died in the United States after being infected by coronavirus at work. 

The family of Bishop Elisha Juma and Reverend Mary Juma of Kenya Assemblies of God, Tudor, is trying all they can to ensure the remains of their son Peter Juma, 35, are brought into the country.

With the outbreak of coronavirus, there are no flights in or out of the country; strained communication with authorities due to time difference and distress in trying to follow up on the body.

 

If all fails, the family may be forced to bury the body in the foreign land, with no or very few relatives to witness his sendoff.

Juma succumbed to the virus on Saturday night. He was working as a bus driver for a company at an airport in New York and had lived in the United States for about four years.

“He was with us since December 25 and returned to the States mid-January. We had no idea that was the last time we would see our son alive,” Mary said.

Bishop Elisha was admitted at a Mombasa hospital a few days ago after he heard that his son had been hospitalized with the Covid-19.

With the current directive in most counties that bodies are to be disposed within the shortest time possible, the restriction is another dilemma for the family.

They are not sure whether they will be able to transport their son’s remains as cargo and even if they do - hailing from Nyanza - the rigorous processes involved in final sendoff, may also pose another challenge.  

“What we are sure of, is that we cannot travel due to the ban on international flights. We are trying to exhaust all options to see what will work. We are reaching out to the embassy to see the options they will provide,” the mother said.

 

Peter had fallen ill within a week and was admitted, but the few relatives with him in the States could not be allowed to visit him due to the distancing directive to prevent the spread of the virus.

The nearest relative, his sister, was also many kilometres away.

Edited by R.Wamochie