Diplomats: Delayed decision to airlift Nkurunziza to Nairobi for COVID-19 treatment led to his death

The late Burundi President
Pierre Nkurunziza, the late Burundian President. [Photo DTNext]

A quick decision to airlift deceased Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza to Nairobi for treatment led to his death that has now emerged to be caused by coronavirus and not a heart attack.

“He had coronavirus but no one would say so because the president had played it down all along,” a diplomat revealed according to a local daily.

The western diplomat based in Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura said that the 55-year-old Nkurunzinza had attended a volleyball game on Saturday before he was taken ill in the evening.

He was rushed to a level three hospital in eastern Burundi where he made some minor recovery on Sunday before his condition took a toll on him Monday.

It is at this point when a decision to airlift him to Nairobi or Dar es Salaam for specialized COVID-19 treatment failed to be made on time by government officials and he passed on.

“There was a lot of confusion with two sides failing to agree on whether to transfer Nkurunziza to Nairobi where his wife was being treated or to Dar. In the process the President passed on,” a senior diplomat in Nairobi said on Wednesday.

Burundi’s First Lady Denise Nkurunziza was 10 days ago airlifted to Kenya via an Amref plane for specialized COVID-19 treatment at the Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi.

She was flown back to Burundi on Tuesday fowling the death of her husband. She is said to have made recovery at the Aga Khan Hospital.

With his death, he has left several of his family members infected with the disease.

Nkurunziza did not impose a lockdown in Burundi where 83 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed already.

He said that Burundi is under God’s protection and went on to hold general polls on May 20. He was expected to hand over the realms of power in August to retired general Evariste Ndayishimiye who won the elections said to have been marred by rigging.