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Suspected coronavirus case reported in Mombasa

Sunday February 2 2020

Coast Provincial General Hospital

Coast Provincial General Hospital in Mombasa. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP  

WINNIE ATIENO
By WINNIE ATIENO
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A female medical student suspected of having the deadly coronavirus is admitted to the Coast General Hospital in Mombasa.

The student, from Southern Medical University in Guangzhou, arrived in the country on Thursday.

“She is currently isolated in a private room at Rahemtullah Ward. Her blood samples have been sent to Nairobi for analysis. She started feeling unwell while in China, complaining of chest pains and difficulty in breathing,” Mombasa County Chief Health Officer Khadija Shikely said on Sunday.

Ms Shikely further said that the 22-year-old student from Likoni Sub-County arrived in the country on January 30 from China.

STRICT ISOLATION

“The patient is now under isolation because we are not taking any chances,” Dr Shikely said.

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Currently the hospital, the largest referral facility in the region, is also under strict surveillance.

The World Health Organisation on Friday declared the coronavirus a global emergency, with special focus on countries that have no health capacities to deal with the outbreak.

“Our greatest concern is the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems,” said WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS

But WHO warned that travel restrictions could be counter-productive.

“Travel restrictions can cause more harm than good by hindering information-sharing, medical supply chains and harming economies,” Mr Ghebreyesus said on Friday, instead recommending the introduction of screening at official border crossings.

Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki on Saturday asked Kenyans to avoid non-essential travel to China as she announced a raft of measures the government has taken to tackle the deadly coronavirus that has so far killed more than 300 people.

Ms Kariuki also noted that none of the 88 Kenyan students in the Chinese city of Wuhan, which is currently under lockdown to combat the spread of the disease, had been reported to show signs of infection.

AD HOC COMMITTEE

In a statement to newsrooms, Ms Kariuki said a Cabinet ad hoc committee on health held a meeting to discuss the coronavirus where it stipulated that there will be enhanced screening at border points and seaports.

“The committee has approved additional mitigation measures to further strengthen our response strategy. The public is kindly requested to bear with the enhanced surveillance actions and collaborate with health officials as directed,” stated the outgoing Health minister.

“A two-tier screening process is being conducted on all inbound passengers and crew at our international airports. To fortify the State’s response, we have also enhanced screening at our border points and seaports,” added Ms Kariuki.

Assuring that Kenya is free of the virus that causes pneumonia-like symptoms in its advanced stages, Ms Kariuki also announced that the student who was being held at Kenyatta National Hospital on suspicion of having contracted the virus had been discharged after coronavirus tests came out negative.