Two new Covid-19 variants reported in Nakuru county

Counties Editor's Pick Nakuru Universal Healthcare

Nakuru County Commissioner Erastus Mbui Mwenda has warned that 2 new variants of the coronavirus could be silently spreading in the County.

Mr Mwenda said though cases of Covid-19 have been on a downward trajectory in Nakuru, health experts have warned this could be a calm before another storm due to emerging variants.

Speaking when he flagged off a second national Covid-19 community sensitization convoy at his offices, the administrator expressed concern that Kenyans have in recent times adopted a careless and relaxed attitude by ignoring protocols put in place to check the spread of the pandemic such as social distancing, wearing face masks, washing and sanitizing hands.

“This means that new variants are within the community and are already spreading, a concern for the fight against the pandemic. There is an urgent need to upscale contact tracing in the country so that we prevent new variants from spreading,” he pointed out.

The health ministry has reported that medical researchers are investigating a mystery variant of corona virus that could be specific to Kenya.

The strain, discovered on May 17 from routine samples collected in Kisumu, is said to have characteristics of both Indian (B.1.617) and the UK (B.1.1.7) variants.

The variant is, however, still under investigation to establish its genetic composition.

Most Kenyans, stated the County Commissioner use the public transport system, which could be one of the potential areas for the spread of the virus if prevention guidelines are disregarded.

Since the first case was confirmed on March 13, the government has banked on social distancing and wearing masks as some of the most effective ways of arresting the spread of coronavirus, piling pressure on Kenyans to avoid crowding.

“These are not normal times. Countries whose citizens have taken a careless or relaxed attitude have suffered greatly. Let us not follow their example.  All leaders must also obey the law and be a good example to the public.” the County Commissioner stated.

He noted that gradual de-escalation measures against Covid-19 were meant to open up the economy and should not be interpreted as a green light to pay no heed to the guidance by health authorities.

“We shall not hesitate to revoke licenses of social places including markets, churches and bars that are found to be negligent to laid down health protocols. Opening of these places was subject to strict compliance with public health regulations” warned the administrator.

According to the World Health Organization, a mutant becomes a variant of concern when it has a clinical or public health significance that affects its spread, severity, effectiveness and testing.

So far, there are four variants of concern globally — Indian, UK, South African and Brazilian. The Indian variant has been identified to spread faster than the others. Genomic surveillance has shown that there are 28 Indian variants, six UK variants, one South African variant and another three sub-variants from the main Indian variant.

Except for the Brazilian variant, the other three variants of concern have been identified in the country, according to Dr. Samuel Oyola, a specialist in genomics and molecular biology at the International Livestock Research Institute.

By Anne Mwale

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