Covid-19 Tanzania quarantine escapee held in Taveta hospital

Counties covid 19 Editor's Pick Taita Taveta

Panic has gripped Taveta sub-county at the Kenya-Tanzania border after a middle-aged man reported to have escaped from a Covid-19 quarantine facility in Tanzania was admitted at Taveta sub-county hospital following a freak accident on Friday night.
The man, a Kenyan, was quarantined in Tanzania but later escaped due to alleged harsh conditions he encountered.
He sneaked across the border undetected on Thursday and went back to his home.
In a bizarre twist, he was involved in an accident that would see him seek medical attention.
It was only after he was rushed to Taveta sub-county hospital that his quarantine history came to light.
A worried source at Taveta sub-county hospital said the man was initially admitted due to the injuries from the accident and not symptoms related to Covid-19.
“After getting information about his history, the team handling him panicked. It was quite a shocker,” said the source.
After that disclosure, the patient was immediately transferred to a holding room as samples were taken to Kenya Medical Research Institute (KeMri) laboratory in Kilifi for testing.
Already, security agencies and teams of medics have launched the process of contact tracing to identify all the individuals who might have come into contact with the patient since he sneaked back into the country.
KNA could not independently establish the number of days the patient had spent in the Tanzania quarantine facility.
When contacted on Saturday, County Executive Committee Member (CECM) for Health John Mwangeka confirmed that the patient was in a secure holding facility in Taveta sub-county while the county medical team awaited his test results.
He added that medics in Taveta had adequate training on handling any eventuality relating to COVID-19.
The CECM further pointed out that tracing of the contacts has started as he expressed optimism that all of them will be found.
“We are waiting for the results for samples sent to Kilifi. While we do, we are looking for anyone who came into contact with the patient. This is a normal precautionary measure,” he said.
To date, the county has not reported any Covid-19 case. The county has intensified screening of temperature for highway users, fumigating of towns, and deployment of public hand-washing points and closure of high-risk businesses as part of interventions to keep Coronavirus at bay.
However, the Taveta incident brings to the fore the dangers and threats posed to the county by a poorly-manned and incredibly porous border between Kenya and Tanzania.
Security agencies have grappled with several measures to seal the border and stop all cross-border movements but challenges still persist.
Security heads in the region admit that such efforts have been defeated by the presence of many illegal routes used by villagers and unscrupulous traders who are still sneaking into Kenya from Tanzania.
Despite intensified patrols, border crossing incidents are still being reported and attributed in parts to some rogue patrol officials who have been compromised by the illegal crossers.
Former Governor John Mruttu, whose home is in Taveta, called upon the residents of the border villages to be vigilant and report cases of foreigners and local people who are crossing over to Tanzania. He said the region was most vulnerable due to its proximity to the border.
“We must all work together to ensure we put our safety first. This is a time to be vigilant for all,” urged the former governor.
By Wagema Mwangi

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