Kwale county residents have been urged to support public health officers undertaking sanitisation campaigns on the coronavirus pandemic.
The county’s public health department has also stepped up cleanliness and hygiene in public spaces like markets, shopping centres and matatu stages as necessary precautions against the deadly disease.
The Deputy Governor, Fatuma Achani on Wednesday asked residents to raise public hygiene standards and follow health guidelines and measures aimed at containing the infectious disease.
Achani said the county has launched coronavirus sensitisation and public awareness campaigns on improved hygiene at the grassroots to enhance preparedness in the region.
She said community health workers and volunteers under ward administrators are urging the people to deal with the situation by stepping up efforts to keep their surroundings clean.
“Taking cleanliness and public hygiene to the next level is actually the first line of defense against infections,” she said when she toured the Kwale open-air market.
On her various stops while accompanied by the county health executive, Francis Gwama, Achani stressed the importance of keeping personal hygiene to protect self and the community from Covid-19.
She said county health staff are going round establishing hand washing points with soap and sanitizers at strategic places in towns to safeguard public health amid the coronavirus outbreak.
“In the light of the global coronavirus outbreak, we have no choice but to follow health instructions aimed at slowing down infections,” she said adding that Kwale has not reported any case of the disease also known as Covid-19.
So far, the country has confirmed four cases of infection as the world contends with the fast spread of the Covid-19.
She said the county government has set aside isolation wards in health facilities spread in Matuga, Msambweni, Kinango, and Lunga Lunga sub-counties for the management of any case that may be reported.
“As of now, we have isolation wards with eight beds in Lunga-Lunga, six beds in Matuga, four beds in Msambweni and two beds in Kinango” she said adding that residents can contact the county health department through mobile number 0768078070 for help.
Symptoms on the novel coronavirus include coughing, sneezing, high fever, breathing difficulties and general body pains.
Meanwhile, the Nakuru Governor, Lee Kinyanjui has called on people aged 65 plus and those with chronic medical conditions to “stay at home as much as possible” in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
Kinyanjui said his administration had unveiled a sensitization programme targeting the elderly and those nursing delicate health conditions on the importance of avoiding activities that involve large crowds.
Speaking at the Nakuru Level 5 Hospital where he gave an update of the devolved unit’s preparedness in surveillance, treatment and control of the coronavirus which has been renamed Covid-19, the governor said the elderly should keep off movie theaters, attending family events, shopping at crowded markets and malls, going to stadiums and attending religious services.
“We are appealing to relatives and guardians of persons aged 65 and over and those with complications such as heart or lung diseases, diabetes or compromised immune systems to reduce their face to face contact with crowds,” said the governor.
He said the hospital has put in place adequate measures in case of any emergency adding that the county has trained over 233 health workers from both public and private hospitals on Covid-19 surveillance.
The governor called on the clergy to suspend worship in mosques, churches and temples until the spread of the virus is brought under control worldwide. Surveillance, he said had been stepped up in public and private places to identify possible hotspots.
Kinyanjui said the county had established a call center for those who may have had contact with persons infected with the disease or those exhibiting symptoms of having been infected with the virus.
He dispelled falsehoods that have been circulating in the county that the disease only afflicts certain races and spares others.
China was the epicenter of the outbreak that has so far infected more than 100,000 people globally and killed at least 4,000 so far.
“Coronavirus is no respecter of race. We should respect foreign nationals working here and stop profiling and exposing them to ridicule and embarrassment. I urge Kenyans to avoid using the social media to spread misinformation that causes panic and anxiety,” stated the governor.
He announced that all inpatient public health facilities had been instructed to put into effect strict measures to restrict visitor access to the wards.
Kinyanjui said patients would only be entitled one visitor per day to protect possible spread of the disease.
Water bowsers and tanks, he said will be stationed in low income areas and slums where they will be manned by county staff who will oversee hand washing and use of sanitizers by the residents.
He called on the residents to adopt online deliveries, which some supermarkets outlets have rolled out where goods are ordered and paid for through mobile applications before being delivered to the client’s doorsteps.
The County Executive Committee Member for Health, Dr. Zachary Gichuki reassured residents of the devolved unit’s preparedness for the coronavirus, adding that his department had received another consignment of protective kit towards scaling up preparedness levels.
He said the County in collaboration with the National government had heightened its level of preparedness and allayed fears that the devolved unit was not well equipped to handle a spate of the disease, which has caused worldwide panic.
“We have received from the National government face masks, shields, overalls, sanitizers, bedding materials and pharmaceuticals. The county has stepped up surveillance for coronavirus at all major hotels and key tourist attraction sites in the region,” said Gichuki.
He said the county had set up a special team and centre with a 24-bed capacity at the Nakuru Level Five Hospital to deal with the coronavirus and another one with a bed capacity of seven at the Naivasha Sub-County Hospital.
At the same time, the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, MTRH, Eldoret has restricted the number of people visiting the facility in an effort to contain the threat of spreading COVID-19 disease.
According to MTRH CEO, Dr. Wilson Aruasa only one person will be allowed to visit a patient admitted at the hospital each visiting hour.
“ Number of members of the public visiting patients at the facility has been restricted to prevent crowding as well as facilitate social distance of one metre during visits,” said Dr. Aruasa during a press briefing by the Multi-Agency County COVID-19 response team at the county headquarters on Monday.
Dr. Aruasa further said visitors to the hospital must also wash their hands with soap or disinfect using alcohol based sanitizers. The visitors as well as patients visiting the facility will be expected to observe personal hygiene and use protective gear where provided.
“MTRH is ready and well prepared to handle any case of Corona Virus in case it occurs within the region,” said the CEO, adding that the hospital has also put measures in place to ensure safety of its staff, patients as well as other clients.
“We have the capacity to mobilize 70 beds for isolation should the need arise, the government also plans to train the media, community health workers, village elders and chiefs as a strategy to enhance sensitization on the corona virus spread.
“Apart from the Multi-Agency rapid response team at the county, MTRH has its own multi-disciplinary taskforce at the facility that is working closely with all counties, faith-based hospitals, and private hospitals and clinics in the region under the guidance of the ministry of health,” he said.
By Hussein Abdullahi/Anne Mwale/Kiptanui Cherono