The late Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza has become the first head of state to die of the coronavirus after it has emerged that he succumbed to the pandemic contrary to earlier reports by his government that he had died of heart attack.
A medical source at the Karusi hospital where Nkurunziza died confirmed to AFP that the president was in ‘respiratory distress’ before his death.
The medical source added that Nkurunziza was flown to the hospital in Karusi, but it was too late, he was already dead.
Suspicions had been high the president had Covid-19 after his wife, Denise, was hospitalised at the end of May after she had tested positive for the virus and suffered ‘respiratory distress.’
Denise was airlifted for coronavirus treatment in Kenya on May 30 and this triggered suspicion about the president’s true cause of death.
Nkurunziza was due to leave office in August after a controversial 15-year term characterised by claims of repression and human rights abuses.
It was announced on Friday that Burundi’s constitutional court has agreed that president-elect Evariste Ndayishimiye should be sworn in immediately after the death of Nkurunziza.