Nyanza, Western counties ramp up efforts to combat coronavirus

Tuesday March 24 2020
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Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o distributes bar soapd for use in public spaces on March 18, 2020. PHOTO | ONDARI OGEGA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By NATION TEAM

A suspected case of coronavirus is being monitored in Kakamega, bringing to two the number of cases under observation in the Western region.

Medical teams at the Kakamega County General Hospital have quarantined the man suspected of suffering from Covid-19, barely a day after another patient was isolated at Aga Khan Hospital in Kisumu after he showed symptoms of the disease.

There was panic at the Kakamega hospital's emergency unit when the patient arrived to be tested. He was rushed to the isolation room by Kenya Red Cross personnel and blood samples obtained for testing at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) Centre.

The county chief officer of Health Beatrice Etemesi said the patient had returned to the country from Dubai on a business trip on Sunday.

In Kisumu, Aga Khan Hospital Medical Director Patrick Eshiwani confirmed that the man of Caucasian origin is isolated in the private facility where he was rushed at around 6pm on Tuesday.

"We have isolated the patient who came in with fever and flu-like symptoms," he said.

Dr Eshiwani said that the hospital doesn't have diagnosis facilities to a certain whether patient has tested positive for Coronavirus.

"We have taken the test samples to National Influenza Laboratory for further analysis," said Dr Eshiwani on phone interview.

Kisumu Health CEC Prof Judith Attyang told Nation that the patient jetted into the country 20 days ago.

"By March 8, the patient started developing symptoms of fever, cough and breathing difficulties. Information from the doctors say the patient is stable," said Prof Attyang.

The patient jetted into the country from the United Kingdom on March 7.

In Kakamega, the patient is reported to have gone to Kakamega County General Hospital for treatment after he presented symptoms similar to those of the coronavirus.

The county chief health officer said the patient had decided to present himself for check-up after he complained of aches and other symptoms associated with coronavirus.

“The patient will remain isolated until we have results of the tests. There is no cause for panic. The situation at the patient’s home is normal but we are making a follow to establish whom the patient had been in contact with,” said Dr Etemesi.

At the Kakamega County Assembly, a nominated county rep is reported to have been attending sessions without self-isolating himself for 14 days after he arrived in the country on February 29.

The Speaker of the County Assembly Morris Buluma said the assembly had suspended proceedings for the next 14 days in line with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive on the coronavirus pandemic.

Cabinet Secretary for Health Services Mutahi Kagwe announced Wednesday that confirmed cases of the coronavirus had increased from 4 to seven.

“We have decided to put off the sessions for two weeks while assessing the situation in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.  Our health is more important and that is why members agreed to proceed for an eerily recess,’ said Mr Buluma.

Meanwhile there was a scare yesterday after two suspects of Coronavirus cases were reported at Al Imran AAR Kisumu during their screening exercise.

However, the AAR Incharge Dr Valentino Koja ruled out any Coronavirus case.

"In the screening exercise done on Tuesday we don't have any case so far reported. Measures have put in place and we are working with the county government to make sure virus is contained," said Dr Koja.

So far Kisumu County has set up three isolation centres in Jaramogi Odinga Oginga Teaching and Referral Hospital, Kisumu County Hospital and Old Kisumu Airport.

Kisumu Governor Anyang' Nyong'o on Wednesday outlined precautionary measures in fight against coronavirus including introduction of a passenger manifest in public service vehicles to help trace possible individuals who may have tested positive of Covid-19.

The measures were compiled by the Kisumu County Emergency Response Committee after a meeting following a suspected cases of the virus reported at the Aga Khan Hospital.

Governor Nyong’o said the suspected case entered Kenya through from United Kingdom and has been in Kisumu for the past 20 days.

“The patient is being quarantined in the Hospital. Tests have been carried out and we are awaiting results from Nairobi,” said Mr Nyong’o, as he asked vehicles to have a list of all passengers at any given time.

“Public service vehicles have to introduce passenger manifest indicating point of boarding and destination to help with contact tracing,” said the Governor who was issuing an update briefing on the state of the county preparedness of coronavirus.

He was flanked by Kisumu County Commissioner Susan Waweru, Speaker Elisha Oraro, County Executive of Health Judith Attyang’, City Manager Doris Ombara and Chairman Elijah Adul.

Boda boda operators have also been ordered to carry only one passenger at a time and must also have hand sanitizer.

Professor Nyong’o also ordered that the dead be buried within 48 hours and funeral attendance be limited to close family members.

He directed bereaved families to collect bodies of their loved ones from morgues across the county and bury them immediately.

The governor also banned all market days and open air markets across the county.

Night clubs, bars and any other social gathering have also been suspended as well as seminars and places of worship.

The directives will be reviewed after three weeks even as the county institutes heightened disease surveillance and efficient referral system equipped with ambulance and trained personnel.

“In addition to the earlier Isolation centers, we are setting up more isolation wards in Kombewa, Ahero, Muhoroni, Nyakach, Chulaimbo, Nyahera and Katito hospitals with a total bed capacity of 35,” said the Governor.

A psychological support and trauma management centre has been set up at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital, and training and capacity building for all Community Health Workers commenced and a County Incident Command Center established at the Department of Health offices at Prosperity House.

A toll free number is being activated and will be communicated in due course.

The county assembly speaker said they had resolved to suspend all assembly sittings indefinitely following the directive by the president on gatherings.

The county has also provided hand washing facilities including water and soap as well as hand sanitizers in all public places, this will be managed by the Kisumu Water and Sanitation Company and the city manager.

“Government officers are conducting routine health talks and education in all health facilities. We are conducting continuous capacity building and training for all health care workers including Community Health Workers,” said Mrs Waweru.

Report by Benson Amadala, Elizabeth Ojina and Rushdie Oudia