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Showdown looms in Baringo over coronavirus wards

Tuesday March 10 2020

Coronavirus isolation wards

An isolation room at Mbagathi Hospital in Nairobi. A showdown is looming between Baringo Governor Stanley Kiptis and the county’s health workers over isolation wards for the novel coronavirus patients. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

FLORAH KOECH
By FLORAH KOECH
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A showdown is looming between Baringo Governor Stanley Kiptis and the county’s health workers over isolation wards for Covid-19 (novel coronavirus) patients.

The workers have disputed claims that the county has complied with the Ministry of Health deadline for setting up the isolation units.

Two days ago, Governor Kiptis announced that the county government had set up isolation wards in Eldama Ravine, Marigat, Mogotio and Kabarnet hospitals to counter any possible outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

NO TRAINING

However, health workers in the region have strongly differed with the governor, saying that his assertion is not true.

The National Nurses Association of Kenya Baringo branch chairperson Elizabeth Yator said that health workers in the county do not know the basics of handling coronavirus patients or taking care of themselves to prevent infection.

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“We are perturbed to hear claims by Governor Kiptis that isolation wards have been set up at the region’s major hospitals. Where are those wards to be precise because we are yet to see any? The health workers have not also been trained on the infection preparedness as he claims,” said Ms Yator.

She said there is a looming danger if such cases are reported in the region.

RUN AWAY

The health workers have threatened to flee in case they spot a patient with symptoms of the virus if the county government does not train them on how to handle the situation.

“We are not going to put our lives at stake in the name of work. If the devolved unit does not take proper measures and adhere to the Health ministry’s deadline to set up isolation wards and procure enough gadgets, I promise that we will take to our heels when we spot patients with coronavirus symptoms,” said Ms Yator.

“We are advising the governor to be genuine in his claims and tell the public the truth. He should not be engaging in a public relations exercise on pertinent issues,” she added.

When the Nation toured Baringo County Referral Hospital in Kabarnet on Tuesday morning, all the admission wards were occupied with no single room set up for coronavirus patients.

NO INFORMATION

Health workers at the hospital who did not want to be identified for fear of victimisation said they are yet to receive any information from the county’s health department on the Covid-19 preparedness in the region.

Three days ago, Governor Kiptis announced that the county had put in place enough measures to ensure that locals are safe from Covid-19 virus which has infected thousands of people in the world and claimed lives.

Addressing residents of Kisonei in Baringo Central, the governor said his administration has set up isolation wards in Eldama Ravine Hospital, Marigat, Mogotio and at the Baringo County Referral Hospital.

“I assure the locals in Baringo County not to panic because of fears of coronavirus. We have enough doctors and we have also set up some isolation wards in the four major hospitals in the region,” said Mr Kiptis.