The Kakamega County government has suspended admission of bodies to all its mortuaries amid the growing fears of coronavirus.
Governor Wycliffe Oparanya has called on families with bodies already in the mortuary to collect them with immediate effect.
Briefing the media at the Kakamega County General Hospital, Mr Oparanya announced a waiver on the standard charges on all bodies currently in the mortuary.
“We are not going to take any body to the public mortuaries but, as a government, we shall support the bereaved families to dispose of their dead ones with immediate effect,” said Mr Oparanya.
Kakamega County Medical Superintendent Victor Zimbulu said a total of 65 bodies are lying at the Kakamega County General Hospital mortuary.
“57 of the bodies have been identified, three are unclaimed, while five are involved in police cases,” said Mr Zimbulu.
The county has set up a committee chaired by the governor to oversee the handling of Covid-19 cases. Other members include Woman Representative Elsie Muhanda, Health CEC Rachel Okumu, a representative from the office of the county commissioner and two doctors from the County General Hospital.
Governor Oparanya said Sh110 million had been set aside to handle cases of the virus. He said 232 doctors had been trained in rapid response.
“We are targeting sub-counties with higher foreign populations especially where construction of roads is going on. They include Malava, Likuyani, Ikolomani and Lurambi. We have also temporarily identified a five-bed isolation room as construction of the 20-bed capacity ward goes on,” Mr Oparanya said.
He said more isolation rooms were being constructed in all sub-county hospitals as the county prepares to handle any eventuality of the Covid-19 disease.
The county government has further closed all Early Childhood Development Centres and polytechnics in line with President Uhuru Kenyatta's decree to shut learning institutions following the beginning of the lockdown.
All open-air markets in the county have also been closed with immediate effect. Mr Oparanya directed all public transport vehicles to provide passengers with sanitisers for their hands before boarding PSVs. He has also banned boda-boda groupings in the county for the next 30 days.
“We have further cancelled visiting of patients at all county health facilities, unless it is absolutely necessary. We have no capacity to handle the coronavirus after three people were confirmed positive,” said the county boss.
Kakamega County had initially been identified among 14 high risk counties due to its high population of foreigners.
Mr Oparanya said several alerts have been raised in the county, signalling a possible outbreak of the virus.
“On January 18, 2020, there was a rumour of outbreak of the virus at Bukhaywa market in Malava Sub-County. Our rapid response team rushed to the scene but found that it was an empty rumour. We had a similar case at Serekeya in Likuyani on February 13 but, again, they were just baseless rumours,” said Mr Oparanya.
He said four Chinese nationals were quarantined for 14 days at Iguhu Sub-County Hospital in Ikolomani after arriving in the country on February 20. They were later confirmed to be negative.
Eleven students from Kakamega who had gone to pursue their studies in China arrived back home on March 3 and were subjected to screening at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport before they were allowed to travel back to their homes.
“On March 10, a foreign national from Egypt was admitted to St Mary’s Hospital in Mumias West Sub-County with rumours that he had coronavirus. The malady was confirmed to be severe malaria but the case is being monitored closely,” he said.
“Although we have not confirmed any Covid-19 case in the county, we are committed to enforcing precautionary measures to protect our people against the virus,” said Mr Oparanya.
Nightclubs have up to 11pm to operate following the order by the governor as disco matangas remain suspended for 30 days.
“The county enforcement teams will ensure that all measures to sustain the prevention are duly followed,” he said.
Dr Geoffrey Githinji, the doctor in charge of infectious diseases at the hospital, who is also leading the rapid response team in the county, said they had acquired 20 protective kits for health workers in the county.
“We have 20 kits available for health officials handling Covid-19 cases and the process to acquire more is on course,” said Dr Githinji.
He said the county was setting up a screening area for people with respiratory infections to ensure they do not mingle with others before they are treated.