Coronavirus: Medics say all Chinese returnees strictly monitored

Wednesday March 18 2020
Sino Hydro

A public health official sprays the Mutomo camp of Sino Hydro Construction company in Kitui South, following coronavirus fears as Chinese staff returned from holidays in their country, February 18, 2020. PHOTO | KITAVI MUTUA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By KITAVI MUTUA

Health Authorities in Kitui and Makueni counties have denied reports that Chinese nationals who returned to the country are not quarantined or monitored effectively.

The medical officers assured communities in the region that sufficient measures are taken in screening everybody returning from China, where the coronavirus has killed more than 2,700 people.

They said the returnees are isolated for two weeks before being allowed to resume work.

HIGH ALERT

Dr Richard Muthoka (Kitui) and Dr Andrew Mulwa (Makueni) said they are on high alert to guard against an outbreak of the virus.

“We will continue to be vigilant. I assure the public that there’s no case of coronavirus and that we will continue doing everything possible to protect our citizens,” said Dr Mulwa.

He denied media reports of a scare among doctors and other staff at county hospitals and Chinese nationals secretly seeking treatment at Makindu after being moved from the Mutomo road construction camp.

“That was just a bad rumour circulated on social media by malicious characters hell-bent on causing panic. We never treated any Chinese nationals from Sino Hydro Construction Company at Makindu County Hospital," he said.

The health executive explained that the hospital only attended to five employees from the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Mutomo, not Chinese nationals from that company.

“We couldn’t reveal their identities due to the doctor-patient confidentiality but they were not employees of Sino Hydro as alleged,” said Dr Mulwa.

Dr Muthoka said his office is closely monitoring the situation and that no Chinese had been moved out of the isolation area.

THE ISOLATION

The Chinese firm is keeping in isolation six foreign employees who jetted into the country from China last week, in compliance with regulations by the Ministry of Health.

The six who are key technical staff in construction of Kitui–Kibwezi road.

They have been kept in separate cubicles and are not allowed to mingle with anyone.

They are monitored on a daily basis by medical staff from Kitui, led by Dr Paul Kibati, who compiles records of their clinical tests.

SAFETY FIRST

Sino Hydro Chief Engineer Zeng Yun said the firm could not violate the government directive to isolate visiting nationals for the safety of staff and the local community.

Mr Zeng noted that nobody is immune to any virus so Sino Hydro cannot leave anything to chance in protecting construction workers and the rest of the people in Kitui.

The panic was triggered by high numbers of Chinese nationals returning to Kenya from Lunar Year celebrations.

They are involved in projects to construct the road and Thwake dam project in Makueni County.

The chief engineer said the first person, who arrived in Kenya on February 16, will complete the 14-days of self-isolation on Sunday .

The others will return to work early next week, he said.