Following confirmation of Covid-19 cases in counties neighboring Taita-Taveta County, the devolved administration has enhanced monitoring the inflow of visitors, workers and other people into the county as part of extensive surveillance programme meant to minimize the risk of county-to-county transmission.
Out of the six counties in Coast region, three including Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale have already reported coronavirus cases. Lamu, Tana River and Taita-Taveta County have not reported a single case. Kajiado County, which borders Taita-Taveta County, recently reported a one case.
Speaking to KNA on Monday, the Taita-Taveta County Commissioner (CC), Rhoda Onyancha said security agencies had up-scaled their monitoring and surveillance operations targeting visitors coming in the county from high-risk neighboring counties where corona cases have been reported.
“We have escalated our monitoring for persons and visitors returning from neighboring counties with reported Covid-19 cases,” she said.
The security agencies are using Nyumba Kumi security clusters to identify visitors and family members recently returned from counties with coronavirus cases. As a safety precaution, the visitors are asked to self-quarantine at their homes for 14-days even when they do not exhibit signs of the dreaded pathogen before mingling freely with the rest of the community.
Ms. Onyancha said as a highway county, Taita-Taveta County remained vulnerable; a situation made more precarious by the fact that it shared boundaries with four counties where coronavirus cases have been reported.
“We are doing this out of overabundance of caution and the visitors on self-quarantine need to help us keep everyone safe,” she said.
She noted that though the visitors might be relatives or family members coming back from other counties, there was need to make sure they were safe and did not put other people at risk.
The move comes barely days after the department of health in the county started mandatory temperature screening for all passengers along the Nairobi-Mombasa Highway which cuts through the county. The county, through the County Emergency Response Team, established three screening centers where all users of the highway will be tested for temperature and fever.
Any cases of unusual temperature detected will lead to prompt isolation for further observation.
Governor Granton Samboja said the county remained on tenterhooks over the spread of coronavirus given the proximity of Taita-Taveta to covid-19 positive counties.
“The counties around us have reported Covid-19. We must take all the precautions possible to prevent it from getting here. These screening centers are part of those precautions,” he said.
Miasenyi and Manyani screening centres are located along the Nairobi-Mombasa Highway while Njukini centre is along Taveta-Illasit Highway in Taveta.
The governor warned that the county might have grave consequences if the virus was allowed to spread given the low-population already in the four sub-counties.
“With our low numbers, we cannot afford to be relaxed. We will do whatever possible to keep ourselves safe,” he said.
The department of health has also deployed fumigation teams that are spraying chemicals in the Central Business Districts (CBD) of all the major towns in the county. Government offices, shops and high human-activity zones like bus stations are also being fumigated.
The CC said the county would do whatever it takes to ensure the safety of the public remained at the highest level possible.
She stated that the transport sector must adhere to the safety directives issued by the Ministry of Health at all times.
The administrator stated that boda boda riders remained a high-risk group and must observe the public health requirements including wearing of masks and carrying a single passenger.
She added that riders violating these rules will have their motorbikes impounded indefinitely until the corona pandemic is declared over.
“We are telling our boda boda riders not to take these precautions lightly. Anyone caught violating these rules will have his bike impounded until government declares coronavirus contained,” she warned.
By Wagema Mwangi