The government on Wednesday directed restriction of movement into and out of Mandera County as part of containment measures.
This is after looking at the unfolding situation in the said County which so far has eight cases with the latest being two cases of urban refugees.
Giving an update today on the status of Coronavirus and the preparedness of the Country, the Health Cabinet Secretary (CS), Mutahi Kagwe said this is a dangerous situation considering that Mandera is a corner county with neighbours on two sides and is affected by travel from other parts of the country
Mandera becomes the fifth County after Nairobi, Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale Counties to ban movement.
In the last 24 hours, the CS said that out of 707 tested samples, seven people have tested positive for coronavirus bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 303.
All the seven, the CS explained are Kenyans, six from Mombasa and one from Nairobi.
“Six are from the targeted mass testing and one was picked by our surveillance teams. five are males and two are females all aged between 21-61 years and none with no recent history of travel “, he said
Kagwe noted however that nine patients have recovered and been discharged bringing now a total of 83 recoveries and a total of 15,124 samples having been tested so far.
Mass testing exercise for Covid 19, the CS said is on-going in targeted high risk areas, which include healthcare workers and that currently the government has 25,000 testing kits which have been deployed for the activity.
“Globally every country is working on testing targets. All have fallen short of these targets because of the disrupted global supply chain. Our plan is to conduct 250,000 tests by June. However, this 250,000 will not match our population”, he said,
The CS however said that the government is collaborating with the development partners to ramp up our surveillance testing mechanism which entails community based surveillance, hospital based surveillance and population based surveillance.
For the community based surveillance, Kagwe said they are looking at 100,000 households while for the hospital based surveillance, 20 hospitals in 16 regions have been mapped out.
“All this is being done under an overarching five-year public health security framework that we have worked out and our Corona response is therefore nested on this policy “, he said
The challenge we have over and above Corona, Kagwe noted is to keep an eye on the other healthcare challenges and called on all Counties to ensure continuity of health services, without losing sight of Corona adding that in the coming days they should be prepared to share County health service delivery scorecards.
The CS said the government is particularly concerned about mental health and has therefore established a psychiatric and psychological care help framework over this period.
“We have to be alive to the effect that COVID-19 management measures have had on our people. If you feel distressed and need counselling or psychological care, please call 1199 and you will be attended to”, he said.
Kagwe gave a hotline number 0721 336017 that can be used for any inquiries on continuity of psychological care or psychiatric emergencies or crisis,
The CS noted that a few days ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that despite the seemingly slow pace of infections in Africa, the number of Coronavirus cases could surge from just thousands now to 10 million within three to six months.
While this is a projection, he said it might just as well be the reality in the coming days considering that within this past week alone, significant changes of infections have been witnessed in our own neighborhood.
“The Covid-19 cases in Somalia have multiplied nine fold in a single week from 26 cases on April 13 to 237, by yesterday. In our neighboring Tanzania, the numbers have swollen sevenfold from 32 cases to 254 within the same period. These developments should concern us”, Kagwe said.
Given these realities, the CS said that the general sentiment of comfort that is being witnessed in the Country is misplaced especially when we as a nation are complacent with a few officials exploiting this pandemic for personal gain
“The idea that we can break curfews and not suffer any ramifications, then we know that we are heading in the wrong direction. Indeed, there is nothing to celebrate when runway impunity takes place at the risk of each of us”, he reiterated.
A slight lapse in behaviour, like the ones the country has witnessed in the last few days, Kagwe said could roll back all the gains that have been made so far.
It is unfortunate, he added that some nay-sayers have dismissed the daily briefings that the government does to paint a picture of the countries situation as “mere daily ledgers.”
“Elsewhere, the disease has thrived on similar cloud of silence and ignorance that we are being pushed to adopt. We refuse to sit back, and will continue to inform Kenyans of our situation and measures they need to continuously take in order to flatten our curve”, Kagwe said.
The CS however, went ahead to thank and congratulate Kenyans who have set-up informal groups that are cooking for, or distributing food hampers to the needy, organizations and companies and joining hands with the Government through various contributions as well as religious community which has continued to provide spiritual nourishment within the stipulated guidelines
By Wangari Ndirangu