The government intends to hire at least 500 doctors to bolster the fight against coronavirus pandemic.
Health Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Dr. Mercy Mwangangi said the need was necessitated by the demand for medics in the wake of the Covid 19 outbreak
She said the government may even opt to bring in foreign doctors to bridge the shortfall if the local market failed to fill in the available vacancies.
“If the local medical practitioners do not suffice to bridge the gap, the government will further go an extra mile to seek for more doctors through the international system and partners “Dr Mwangangi said.
Speaking at Afya House during the daily briefing on the status of Covid 19 in the country, the CAS further said in appreciation of the risks the health workers exposed to by virtue of their duty, the government had set up an isolation and quarantine centres for the medical staff.
The CAS called upon all private testing facilities to share the results of suspect Covid 19 cases with the Health Ministry officials to facilitate monitoring and tracking of spreading trends in the country.
“This is a public health matter and the government has be in the picture to map out ways of containing the pandemic and for that matter all labs conducting tests must adhere to the laid down protocol ” Dr Mwangangi stressed.
She said health officials were yet to receive reports if any to the effect that a section of members of parliament tested positive to Covid 19 after jetting back into the country from a foreign trip.
Both the mainstream and social media were abuzz lately after unconfirmed reports indicated that at least 17 members of the August house were infected with the highly contagious viral disease.
“ We have seen the headlines being reported in the media on positive cases of coronavirus in parliament but so far we have not received any official communication about the alleged cases at the Ministry” Dr Mwangangi claried.
She also announced that the government was rolling out mass testing of Covid 19 at different state institutions upon which the Ministry may be in a position to give an outlook of infection in parliament or judiciary.
Dr. Mwangangi however said although the public health Act demanded the sharing of medical history of a patient the government still upheld the principles of confidentiality that are governed the Medical profession.
“Our corporates, like Safaricom has offered to use its 175,00 agents to distribute masks and hand sanitizers while the department of prisons agreed to make additional face masks . I encourage other institutions to that which can lend a helping hand in this epic fight “, she said.
The CAS made a special appeal to those in possession of oxygen cylinders not in use to consider availing them to the government for the purposes of boosting their capacity in preparedness for any worse situation that may come.
“This disease has shown itself to be blind to creed, status, colour , age and height and that is the reason why we have been calling for one-for-all-and -all-for-one approach to save ourselves from the pandemic” she said.
Dr. Mwangangi at the same time directed all salon and barber shop operators to wear face masks while attending to their clients and ensure that sanitizers for their clients to ensure that basic hygiene standards were maintained.
She informed the nation that seven fresh infections occurred over the last 24 hours bringing the number of confirmed Covid in the country to 179,
Dr Mwangangi the seven were detected out the 305 samples tested and that four of them had a history of having travelled out of the country with one from Congo and United Kingdom while the other two jetted from US..
In terms of distribution per their counties of residence, Nairobi has 5 , Mombasa and Uasin Gishu 1 each. “Two of these cases emanated from our mandatory quarantine facilities while five were picked by our surveillance teams”, she said
In terms of age breakdown, dr. Mwangangi said of the 179 cases in the country, 3 cases were below 15years, 49 cases are between 15 and 49 years, 114 cases are of ages 30 to 59 while those above 60 are 13.
Contact tracing of the 7 cases , four female and three male is ongoing , the CAS said and noting that so far a total of 2004 persons have been monitored out of which 1426 have been discharged and 578 are currently on follow up .
She also informed the country that all the patients under isolation exhibit mild ailments except for one who was still in critical condition
“One piece of good news is that a patient who was in critical care was moved to ordinary while two others recovered and were discharged in the last 24 hours”, Dr. Mwangangi said .
On the issue of repeat quarantine for those in Mandatory quarantine, health Acting Director General Dr. Patrick Amoth explained that that the government looked at the various designated quarantined facilities , looked at proportion of people who tested positive in the facilities and where there was significant number of people testing positive it was their belief that there was local transmission of the disease.
“Based on that , the day the positive cases were removed from quarantine site to the isolation treatment centers became day 0 for the people under quarantine:”, he said.
However in conjunction with case management team, Dr. Amoth said that they were reviewing and also looking at deploying testing on the 15th day to be able to see how many of those people turned out negative in which case they will be allowed to go home.
“Those in isolation, the release process is that you must have two negative tests within 48 hours and that is what we have deployed in all cases we have released”, Dr. Amoth clarified.
By Wangari Ndirangu