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Inquest will hear about first UK child Covid victim’s final hours in hospital

The funeral in the Eternal Gardens Muslim Burial Ground, Chislehurst of Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab, 13, from Brixton, south London (PA)
The funeral in the Eternal Gardens Muslim Burial Ground, Chislehurst of Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab, 13, from Brixton, south London (PA)

An inquest into the UK’s first known coronavirus death of a child will determine whether doctors misplaced a ventilation tube while the boy was in hospital.

Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab, 13, died of acute respiratory distress syndrome in the early hours of March 30 2020, three days after testing positive for Covid-19.

He was admitted to King’s College Hospital after suffering fever, coughing, shortness of breath, vomiting and diarrhoea.

His family were not able to be with him because they were self-isolating and his siblings had milder symptoms of high temperature and loss of taste.

The funeral in the Eternal Gardens Muslim Burial Ground, Chislehurst of Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab, 13, from Brixton, south London
The funeral in the Eternal Gardens Muslim Burial Ground, Chislehurst of Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab, 13, from Brixton, south London (PA)

They were also unable to attend his funeral and four people wearing protective clothing, gloves and face masks lowered his coffin into a south-east London grave.

Hours before Ismail’s death, an endotracheal tube (ET) used to help patients breath was found to be in the wrong position and a decision was made to move it in the morning when there would be more staff.

The teenager did not survive the night.

Senior coroner Andrew Harris said the inquest will examine if the ET should have been repositioned earlier.

He said Ismail, of Brixton, south London, may have died because he was “especially vulnerable” or because his infection was “particularly virulent”.

The inquest is due to begin next March and will hear evidence from doctors and nurses in charge of treating Ismail.

It will also investigate whether a failure to detect the misplaced tube contributed to his death and if any lessons have been learnt.

Mr Harris said: “I do recognise that this is very tragic and not only stressful for the family but for those who will have known Ismail and will have been deeply saddened by his death.

“Doctors and nurses were working at exceptionally difficult times and we will have to understand that as we hear the evidence.”

The inquest will take place at London Inner South Coroner’s Court and will hear from five live witnesses, as well as others who will provide written statements.

It is expected to last one-and-a-half days and a provisional date for March 1 has been set.