The County Government of Machakos has set aside a total of Sh.100 million as part of mitigations measures aimed at combating the coronavirus pandemic.
The County government has also assured of minimum interruptions in the daily operations of businesses in the area, however, it has cautioned employers to adhere to the recommend health standards to prevent the spread of the disease as outlined by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Addressing the press at his Mavoko Office on Tuesday, the Machakos Governor, Dr. Alfred Mutua said among measures the County has taken to address the global health challenge, include, training of 19 health workers and securing of modern PMS kits to test the deadly virus.
He added that the County government is undertaking grassroots sensitization campaigns to ensure the public maintains highest levels of hygiene as preventive measure against the disease which has infected a total of 197,942 people and killed 7,951 others across more than 50 countries.
China, which was the epicentre of the epidemic, has so far recorded the highest number of infections and deaths in a span of 70 days.
“We want to assure the public that as a government we shall ensure there is minimum interruption to daily operations and that business and government operations in the County will continue as usual despite the Coronavirus threat. Nevertheless, as a precaution to ward-off any unforeseen risks, we are urging companies, traders, and government officers in Machakos to adhere to hygienic regulations to stem the spread of the pandemic,” he pointed out.
Dr. Mutua at the same time directed all Public Service Operators (PSV) operators in the County to be disinfecting their vehicles after every four hours to help mitigate the spread of the raging virus.
He called upon the National Government to support Devolved Units in addressing the health scare by channeling financial assistance to them.
The Governor, however, explained that the Machakos Level Five Hospital is currently fully equipped to test any suspected Corona virus in patients.
“Currently there is no reported Corona virus case in the County, but in the event there is one, we have ample kits to test the disease. The Cabinet has also approved Sh 100 million for coronavirus emergency aid and also for paying out allowances for our medics. However, we are calling upon the National Government to extend support to counties as they are financially strained,” he added.
Meanwhile, following the government directive calling for the closure of all institutions of learning by Friday this week, the Machakos Bus Park has been turned into a beehive of activities as droves of student’s flock to the place heading home.
A spot check by KNA revealed many Passenger Service Vehicles (PSV) operators have taken advantage of the influx of passengers to adjust their fares upwards.
For instance, by yesterday PSV operators were charging Sh 300 from Machakos to Nairobi up from sh.100.
Those travelling to Athi River from Machakos had to part with Sh.250 up from the normal Sh.100.
Dennis Muasya, a student from Muindi Mbingu Secondary School said they had been advised not to go to crowded places and parties to avoid contracting the disease but expressed fear that it might not be possible.
“We have been directed to sanitize our hands frequently and to avoid over crowded public Service Vehicles. But this seems not to be the case as matatu owners have not adhered to any of these simple directives. Everything is going as any other day before,” he said.
On her part, Faith Mukonyo from St Catherine Lema Girls School, said her father had decided to pick her to avoid putting her daughter in danger of associated with PSV.
She said it was much safer to use private means as one can always take necessary precautions such as hand sanitation which PSV operators had apparently decided to overlook.
According to WHO official website, Coronaviruses (CoV) is a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
The current scourge COVID-19 is a new strain that was discovered in 2019 and has not been previously identified in human.
Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, and cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
Standard recommendations to prevent infection spread, include regular hand-washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs.
Other measures include avoiding close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.
At the same time, the Kisumu Governor, Prof. Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o has shut down all open air markets in the area to contain the spread of corona virus.
Nyong’o has further directed that all dead persons be buried within 48 hours and funerals limited to close relatives and family members to avoid overcrowding.
The measures which take immediate effect come barely a day after a suspected case of the virus was reported in the area.
The patient who on Tuesday showed symptoms of Covid-19 was rushed to Agha Khan Hospital where he is being attended to in isolation as results are awaited.
Addressing the media at City Hall in Kisumu on Wednesday, Nyong’o said stringent measures have been put in place to limit the spread of the virus in the event of a confirmed case in the area.
He added that all social gatherings including sports, leisure, weddings, night clubs, bars, workshops and seminars have been suspended with immediate effect.
The Governor directed all Public Service Vehicles (PSV’s) to introduce passenger manifest to aide in contact tracing.
Boda boda operators, he added, shall carry only one passenger at a go to minimise contact that could lead to spread of the virus.
He said that hospital visitations shall be limited to only two visitors per patient urging members of the public to wash their hands with soap and running water to keep the virus at bay.
Nyong’o disclosed that continuous awareness and sensitisation campaigns were being carried out through radio talk shows, road shows and distribution of relevant communication materials in all parts of the county.
More isolation wards, he said were being set up at Kombewa, Ahero, Muhoroni, Nyakach, Chulaimbo, Nyahera and Katito sub- county hospitals with a total bed capacity of 35.
The Kisumu County Assembly Speaker, Jack Oraro said that assembly sittings have been suspended for twenty days to monitor the state of the pandemic.
Oraro added that the Members of County Assembly (MCAs) would help in creating awareness to the public on the Corona virus pandemic.
The County Commissioner (CC), Susan Waweru urged area residents to stick to the measures announced by the government to help contain the spread.
Waweru added that a toll free number was being activated and would be communicated soon to help members of the public report suspected cases.
By KNA TEAM