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Public health officials deployed to enforce safety measures in public institutions

Taita-Taveta County Government has deployed public health officers and disease surveillance officials to monitor all public institutions and other places and enforce public safety rules drafted by the County Emergency Response Committee to ensure residents safety should coronavirus cases be reported in the region.

Speaking in Voi town on Saturday during a briefing on county preparedness to tackle the the scourge, County Executive Committee Member for health  Mr. John Mwakima said the department had already put in place preliminary safety measures to keep the county safe.

Among the measures instituted include establishment of mandatory hand-washing bays in public institutions and demanding all public transport provide hand sanitizers for their passengers.

He also said the screening of visitors at Taveta One Stop Border Post had been intensified and would be complemented by randomized screening at hospitals, transport stations and other public places.

“This is a multi-agency exercise and we have mobilized resources and skills to ensure that we secure the county,” he said.

Already, two doctors from the county have undergone intensive training on handling COVID- 19 cases and would be educate other medics in the region on the disease detection and management.

Dr. Abel Mwenja, a specialist in infectious diseases and a member of the emergency committee, said the primary aim of the measures was to minimize the risk of spreading. He added that special containment units and isolation centers have been identified in all the four sub-counties.

“We have units in our public hospitals where reported cases will be taken. At Taveta border, we have also established a quarantine zone,” he said.

However, it was not clear if the county had adequate testing kits to be distributed in all health facilities.

Ms. Philomena Nkirote, the Chief Officer for Health, said the finance department was part of the committee and would provide details about funding for Corona safety measures. She however said that the county was still hopeful of being classified as high-risk county due to its proximity to Tanzania border.

She also pointed out the busy Nairobi-Mombasa Highway and the hundreds of international visitors coming to the region posed a risk to the public safety.

“This county should be considered a high risk because by virtue of our location, we have several elements that makes us vulnerable,” she said.

The committee also advised that group events like burials should be done by observing the highest level of hygiene including washing of hands and avoiding coughing in crowded places.

Other measures adopted along the Kenya-Tanzania border at Taveta includes using Nyumba Kumi and local community security committees to monitor and promptly report cases of illegal movement across the porous border.

The cross-border movement without screening threatens public safety.

By Wagema Mwangi

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