Coronavirus: Saudi Arabian child dies after COVID-19 test swab breaks in his nose

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A one and a half year old Saudi Arabian child died due to a coronavirus swab breaking inside his nasal cavity, after medical staff in a hospital in the Kingdom performed the COVID-19 test because he had a fever.

The Kingdom's Minister of Health Tawfiq bin Fawzan al-Rabiah ordered an investigation into the incident and called the father of the child to offer his condolences and vowed to follow up on the case personally.

The child’s uncle and legal guardian, Mosaed al-Joufan, told Al Arabiya: “He did not suffer from any chronic or dangerous diseases. He complained Friday evening of a fever and we took him to Shaqra General Hospital with his mother."

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After he was examined by a doctor, they decided to conduct a nasal swab, even though he was in good health and only complained of a high temperature.”

The uncle said the swab broke inside the child’s nasal cavity, so the doctor decided to put him under general anesthesia to extract the broken swab from the child’s nose.

“At around 1 a.m., they informed me the operation was over and that the doctor was able to take the swab out.”

Al-Joufan added that after his nephew woke up, he asked the nurse for the specialist doctor to examine the boy after the operation, check his status and ensure that the swab was taken out completely and that there was no bleeding or difficulty breathing.

But the nurse said the doctor was not available and asked the mother to wait, al-Joufan said.

At 9 a.m. in the morning, the boy lost consciousness, and the medical staff found that he wasn’t breathing and performed CPR, according to the uncle.

“I then came to the hospital and asked for the specialist doctor to come. He performed an X-ray which showed that a blockage of the airway in one of the lungs, according to the radiologist.”

Al-Joufan said: “When the child’s condition deteriorated, I asked that he be transported to a specialist hospital in Riyadh to save his life. The request was approved early, but we sat in the hospital waiting for an ambulance which did not reach the emergency section until an hour later.”

He added that even then, they waited for the child to be transported, but he was never taken to that hospital in Riyadh because he was pronounced dead before then.

The uncle submitted a form requesting an investigation into the cause of the unexpected death of the child and the procedures followed when the medical staff handled his nephew’s case.

“I await the punishment of the person responsible for the child’s death,” al-Joufan said.

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