Kenya has confirmed the first case of case of Coronavirus after a 27-year-old female student who travelled from the United States via London on the 5th of March tested positive of the dreaded pandemic.
Confirming the case, Health Cabinet Secretary (CS), Mutahi Kagwe however told the nation during a press briefing at Harambee House that the victim was in a stable condition but could only be discharged after turning negative to the highly contagious disease.
He said the woman was admitted in isolation unit at the Kenyatta National Hospital Infectious Disease Unit (IDU) adding that other passengers aboard the flight were contacted to present themselves for testing.
“In view of this the government has put in place measures to contain the spread of the virus including suspended all Public gatherings, including the inter-schools events that were to be carried out in this second term school calendar. However religious gatherings to go on as normal but leadership should provide sanitisers for the worshippers.
Through the Public Health Act, the CS also ordered that all persons should maintain a distance of at least one metre from persons who are coughing or sneezing to minimize the spread of the virus through droplets.
Kagwe said people should regularly wash hands with sanitizers, those coughing and having symptoms closer to Covid 19 to keep away from crowds, cover mouth and nose with handkerchiefs and hands when sneezing.
He added that those with suspected symptoms of the pandemic to stay home. He gave travel restriction for nonessential travel out of the country.
Others are that Public transport operators should regularly clean their vehicles and provide sanitizers to passengers, suspension of all visits to prisons for the next one month, and also asked those affected by coughs and difficulty in breathing to stay at home.
Kagwe also stressed that all level 4 and 5 hospitals in the country will have an isolation ward and that County governments will also carry out regular public sensitization on the coronavirus disease,
The CS urged Kenyans not to panic as long as everyone follows measures that have been put in place across board. He added government will be giving regular updates so as to avoid social media misinformation.
“This is not a time to assign blame but for all of us to join hands and ensure that this epidemic does not sweep through the country,” he emphasized.
Transport Cabinet Secretary, James Macharia, who was present at the press conference, said all public transport operators had already held a special stakeholder meeting on COVID 19.
The Government, he said, will also be conducting training at bus stops from 10 am to 4 pm which involve all bus and matatu drivers and their conductors. More than 90 percent of Kenyans use public transport.
The CoronaVirus 2019 outbreak was first reported on December 31, 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and continues to spread across the globe.
As of Wednesday March 11, 2020, there were 118,326 confirmed cases and 4627 deaths in 114 countries globally.
Eleven African countries have reported having cases of the virus namely Egypt, Algeria, Nigeria, Senegal, Cameroon, South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, Burkina Faso, Togo and Democratic Republic of Congo.
By Wangari Ndirangu