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Covid-19: shock as 32 escape quarantine in Mandera

Tuesday April 14 2020

Coronavirus isolation wards

An isolation room at a hospital: The escapees are said to have colluded with the police. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

MANASE OTSIALO
By MANASE OTSIALO
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The County Government of Mandera has revealed that 32 people who travelled from Nairobi last week have managed to disappear from a quarantine facility in Elwak town under unclear circumstances.

In a letter penned by County Executive Ahmed Sheikh addressed to Mandera South Deputy County Commissioner (DCC) Abdihakim Dubat, the devolved unit appears to be laying blame on the administrator for the development.

The county has also accused the police of colluding with the passengers who were in forced quarantine after they were reported to have sneaked out of Nairobi on Wednesday last week.

“I write to register our displeasure with the manner in which 32 people out of 66 passengers disappeared from quarantine facilities under the watch of police officers,” reads the letter seen by the Nation.

He termed the move as unprocedural and risky to the public.

“It appears a few elements within the security system are yet to understand the seriousness of this campaign against coronavirus,” reads the letter.

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The passengers had sneaked out of Nairobi on a Makka bus, in defiance of an order by President Uhuru Kenyatta for cessation of movement into and out of the capital.

They later arrived in Elwak town the following day and the driver was arrested, but he was not charged in court on Tuesday as was expected.

The county government wants the Mandera South DCC to take responsibility, trace the 32 escapees and further deal with negligence by security officers at Elwak town.

BLAME GAME

But Mandera County Commissioner Onesmus Kyatha has denied that DCC Dubat is culpable for disappearance of the 32.

“There is a multi-agency team dealing with coronavirus in Mandera and it is not true that DCC released people from quarantine. We have launched investigations into the matter and action will be taken against whoever will be found liable,” he said.

According to Mr Kyatha, shortage of quarantine facilities in Mandera could have helped the group disappear since officials in charge could not monitor everyone for 14 days.

The county has four confirmed cases of Covid-19.

POOR ENFORCEMENT

In a press briefing on Tuesday morning, Governor Ali Roba cited enforcement of rules as the main setback in the fight against Covid-19.

“From the look of things, it is only through extreme vigilance that we can remain proactive and contain the spread of this pandemic. Lack of capacity, preparedness and poor enforcement by our security partners will lead to extreme exposure to pandemic in the county,” he said.

He also accused security officers of releasing people from quarantine facilities in Mandera.

“We are now dealing with indiscipline cases among the public and our officers. I urge our security teams to understand that coronavirus is a life-threatening disease that can be countered effectively through disciplined collective efforts from all of us,” he said.