The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Kenya has increased to 25 after the government on Tuesday confirmed nine more new cases.
The Health Cabinet Secretary (CS), Mutahi Kagwe said the confirmed cases are spread out in four counties namely Nairobi, Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale.
“Out of the nine confirmed cases, seven are Kenyans while two are foreigners,” he said, adding that of the seven Kenyans, three have contracted the virus from close contact with previously confirmed cases while four others contracted the same from countries that are affected with the virus.
The CS, who was giving an update of coronavirus in the country and the response measures, explained that in the last 24 hours, a total of 82 samples from suspected cases of coronavirus were tested in various laboratories namely the National Influenza Centre, KEMRI Nairobi, KEMRI- Welcome Trust Kilifi and Aga Khan Hospital Nairobi.
“Tracing of contacts for the new patients as well as those of the previous patients is ongoing with the total number of close contacts that we have so far been monitoring standing at 745,” he said.
Out of this number, Kagwe said that 98 have been discharged after completing the 14-day follow up period and added that only 647 contacts are remaining and that the tracing teams are monitoring.
Fifteen individuals are currently admitted at Mbagathi Hospital awaiting test results, he added.
On the issue of international travelers arriving through entry points and undergoing mandatory quarantine in selected hotels and Government designated facilities, at their own cost, the CS acknowledged that there has been a challenge.
“We are having challenges especially at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, as well as the designated hotels and government facilities, where we are taking the travelers for mandatory quarantine. This was bound to happen, because of the huge numbers that are coming in while at the same time we do not want to leave anything to chance,” he said.
The CS however, noted that the process has been streamlined and sorted out, adding that government intends to introduce a further measure that will speed up the process.
“I want to once again appeal to all travelers to bear with us as we continue to undertake this process. This intervention is aimed at stopping further introduction of the virus into the country,” Kagwe said.
At the same time, Kagwe announced the government has received a donation of 25,000 testing kits for the Coronavirus from Chinese business magnate, Jack Ma that he said will go a long way in helping fight the disease.
He noted that the government shall be carrying out mandatory testing for all the contact cases and at the same time carryout testing for all persons on mandatory quarantine, who are coming in from overseas as well as those already here.
The National Influenza laboratory has improved in testing the virus and has the capacity to test 300 samples within 24 hours while KEMRI have capability to test 360 samples in a given day, and the CS said with more kits coming in , testing will be further boosted and be done in 45 minutes.
However, he confirmed that the testing kits coming into the country will have to be authenticated, genuine and approved by the WHO.
On issues of children staying at home and exposure, the CS firmly said, “we are suffering from cases of indiscipline and Kenyans are exhibiting indiscipline and this is going to cost us. When we tell people keep your kids safe we don’t mean keeping your kid safe by bringing somebody in who for all you know is coronavirus positive, we are telling you to keep your kids home with you. It’s a grievous mistake for us to give you your child because we don’t want the child exposed and then you go exposing the child at home”.
Kagwe urged all Kenyans to fully support the measures being undertaken by the government to deal with this deadly disease, as this was the only sure way to cut off transmission of the virus in our country.
The Acting Director General Ministry of Health, Dr. Patrick Amoth said that they are working with Moi Teaching and Referral hospital in Rift Valley to establish another testing centre in the hospital to serve the North Rift Counties.
During today’s press briefing, Dr. Myriam Sidibe, a PHD holder in Tropical Medicine from Harvard University explained and demonstrated how washing hands is done saying it should take exactly 20 seconds.
By Wangari Ndirangu