The government will establish a mobile Covid-19 laboratory at the Namanga border town, after nine Kenyan and five Tanzanian truck drivers tested positive for the virus.
The Ministry of Health’s Ag. Director General Dr. Patrick Amoth revealed that the laboratory would be established in the next 48 hours so as to ensure seamless screening and testing of the drivers and residents.
Speaking in Namanga on Tuesday, Dr. Amoth noted that Kajiado was an important corridor as truck drivers exit and enter the country at the One Stop Border Post from Tanzania and the government was committed in ensuring that cross-country infections are curbed.
“We are working on availing a mobile laboratory at the Namanga border within the next 24 hours-48 hours to ensure proper testing at the border. The lab has a capacity to take up to 600 tests a day, this will ensure that we are testing more drivers and reduce the waiting time to get the results so that they can proceed to their destinations,” he said.
The truck drivers had decried the slow phase of screening and testing for the virus saying that they are forced to spend over five days at the border town, waiting for their results and clearance, making them to incur losses.
According to the new requirements set by the government, the drivers are expected to take the tests 48 hours before the journey begins and after every 14 days.
They are also required to carry an attestation letter from the Ministry of Health indicating that they have tested negative.
The border town of Namanga receives at least 1,300 trucks a day and so far 545 tests have been conducted.
Charles Mkeke, a Tanzanian truck driver welcomed the move to set up a mobile laboratory at Namanga as it would speed up testing and clearance process.
Mkeke said he is incurring huge losses as he had spent six days at the border awaiting testing and results.
He said the slow process of clearance exposes them to the virus as they are forced to spend the nights in lodges and inter-mingle amongst themselves and with other residents.
Dr. Amoth further reiterated the government’s plan to reduce the cost of testing among truck drivers from Sh.4, 000 to Sh.1, 000.
The Government Spokesperson Colonel (Rtd) Cyrus Oguna emphasized that public sensitization on Coronavirus is key in ensuring that transmission is curtailed.
Oguna lauded the County government of Kajiado for complimenting the national government’s efforts in curbing the spread of the novel virus.
He said the two levels government were cooperating especially in provision of PPEs to health workers.
Oguna commended the County on its capacity to produce 50,000 masks at their Vocational Training centers for distribution to members of the public.
“As the National government, we are impressed by the County government’s actions to manufacture their own masks through the technical institutions as well as producing sanitizers because these items are in high demand and the he supply needs to be constant. Such efforts ease the burden for us thus we can focus on manufacturing Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and take other actions to combat the disease,” he noted.
The border town of Namanga receives at least 1,300 trucks a day and already at least 5000 tests have been undertaken.
The country’s Coronavirus positive cases rose to 715 on Tuesday, while Kajiado County infections currently stand at 17 with 2 recoveries and 0 deaths.
By Rop Janet/Albert Lemomo