Sixty people who had contact with an Italian based priest who later tested positive for Coronavirus have visited health facilities in Siaya for screening, area governor, Cornel Rasanga has said.
Rasanga said that medical personnel have identified seven suspected cases from the contacts and taken samples from them for further tests at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) laboratories in Kisumu.
The governor, who was flanked by Siaya County Commissioner (CC), Michael ole Tialal was briefing the media on Tuesday evening on measures taken by the county emergency response team in the wake of discovery that father Richard Onyango Oduor had conducted a burial ceremony and given Eucharist to tens of Christians and family members a fortnight ago in Ugunja.
The Rome based priest arrived in Siaya on 13th March, 2020 after jetting into Kenya on 11th March, 2020 and spending the night in Nairobi’s Utawala estate before boarding a bus to Ugunja.
Rasanga said that the emergency response team has since established that the priest, apart from conducting the burial ceremony, also conducted Sunday masses at Jera and Sihay catholic churches in Ugenya Sub County and had contacts with priests at Sega Catholic Church, where he spent the night and also nuns at Lwak convent in Rarieda Sub County which he visited.
“Our team of health professionals have conducted screening to family members and neighbours of the priest and the deceased family and other probable contacts,” said the governor adding “this prompted probable contacts to flock our health facilities for voluntary screening.” the Governor added.
He said that the team will share with the public the results of the seven once they are ready.
The governor called on anybody who came into contact with the priest and any suspected case to get in touch with health staff or call the county hotline, 0800721546 for assistance.
Rasanga called on Siaya residents to adhere to the recommended measures to keep the virus under control to avoid lockdown.
He said that restaurants in the county will only be allowed to sell take-away food and warned that people will not be allowed to crowd.
“We insist that funerals be conducted within 48 hours of death and no more than 15 people will be allowed to attend,” he said adding that funeral vigils, disco matanga and gatherings in town will not be allowed.
The governor assured residents that the county was prepared to handle the pandemic and had set aside isolation wards in Siaya county referral hospital and Bondo sub county referral hospitals.
He said that Kenya Medical Training College hostels in Bondo and Siaya have also been identified as quarantine centres.
By Philip Onyango