Covid-19: State races to trace Siaya priest's last contacts

Monday March 23 2020
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A Catholic priest sprinkles holy water on a coffin. A team of health personnel had been dispatched to trace all persons who may have interacted with the priest who recently officiated a funeral. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


A Rome-based Catholic priest who has tested positive for coronavirus, and is now in isolation at Mbagathi Hospital, was in Siaya County a week ago officiating events.

County Commissioner Michael Ole Tialal on Monday told the Nation that a team of health personnel had been dispatched to trace all persons who may have interacted with the priest.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe, while announcing that Kenya now has 16 coronavirus cases, also confirmed during Monday's update that the State was in a race to find his last contacts.

According to Mr Ole Tialal, the priest who hails from Siaya but is based in Italy was in the country on vacation.

It was not immediately clear when he travelled to Kenya, but he is understood to have conducted mass at a Catholic Church in Ambira on Friday.

He also attended a funeral at a village in Ugunja Sub-county on Saturday March 14.


"We are tracking those who he may have interacted with in Ambira and Sega where he slept in one of the homes," he said.


On Monday, the County emergency response team, which is jointly chaired by Siaya Governor Cornel Rasanga and the county commissioner, held a crisis meeting in the wake of the report about the priest.

Mr Ole Tialal told the Nation that the priest was on his way back to Italy when he fell ill and was found to be positive.

"We are following up the issue to establish places he visited within the county and track anyone who could have been in contact with him," he said.

Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi, who also attended the Saturday burial, on Monday said he never interacted with the said priest.

"I was at the burial yes...I got an opportunity to pass my condolences to the bereaved family and made a brief speech but never interacted with the priest," he told the Nation on phone from his residence in Nairobi.

Catholic nuns from Lwak in Rarieda who were said to have attended a service presided by the priest denied having attended the mass, according to national government officers from the Sub-county.

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Meanwhile, in Nyamira County, authorities have forced a man who recently jetted back into the country from the US to quarantine himself after villagers raised alarm over his decision not to stay at home.

Seven of his family members from Nyakeore village have also been forced to quarantine themselves.

He flew in on March 10, 2020 and was screened at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

He the arrived in Nyamira County on March 14.

Police reports indicate that the man has been roaming freely even after being asked by authorities at JKIA to quarantine.

Health officials from Nyamira, the area chief, police officers and Nyumba Kumi officials traced him to his home on Sunday after residents raised concerns on social media.

“After an intensive interrogation, he was quarantined together with all seven family members under close supervision of public health officers and other authorities,” said Nyamira County Commissioner Amos Mariba.

Doctors in Homa Bay are also monitoring the health of a man who recently returned to the country from Sweden to establish if he might be infected with coronavirus.

The man aged between 30 and 35 years has isolated himself as a precautionary measure to minimise any possible spread of the disease that continues to kill hundreds by the day globally.

County Health CEC Prof Richad Muga said the man voluntarily isolated himself after jetting back into the country from Europe last week.


In Kisumu, Muslim clerics on Monday said burial ceremonies will now be done at cemeteries and attended by close family members only.

Speaking during a press briefing at Jamia Mosque Kisumu, Muslim Association Chairman Sheikh Musa Ismail Hajji said that no burial service will be conducted in the mosque as a safety measure.

"This is not the first time mosques have been closed in the history of the Muslim religion. 900 years ago in Egypt and Spain there was an order for closure of mosques over outbreak of disease," said Mr Hajji.

In Bomet, a woman was on Sunday placed in an isolated ward in Bomet county over a suspected case of coronavirus infection.

The Nairobi businesswoman, said to be 21-years-old, had travelled to her rural home in Siongiroi, Chepalungu Constituency in Bomet county four days ago.

She was rushed to Tenwek hospital before being transferred to an isolation ward at Longisa county referral hospital on late Sunday evening.

"The patient with high fever and sneezing was initially taken to Tenwek hospital before being transferred to Longisa county referral hospital where there is an isolation room," said Dr Joseph Sitonik, the county executive in charge of Medical services.


Meanwhile in Kisumu, a second case of suspected Covid-19 in Kisumu tested negative with the 49-year-old male medical practitioner being discharged from Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (JOOTRH).

There was a scare at the Kisumu International Airport on Friday after he alighted from a Kenya Airways flight from Nairobi and presented himself at the facility’s health unit after being informed of a possible relation to a primary case that had tested positive at Kemri laboratories in Kilifi County.

Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o, who is also the county CEC for Health, said he was immediately isolated and transferred to JOOTRH isolation unit.

“The subject being a medical practitioner had come into direct contact to an admitted patient with respiratory symptoms and history meeting probable case definition of codiv-19, who had in turn been in contact with a primary case whose results for covid-19 was positive,” Governor Anyang' Nyong’o said in a statement on Sunday.

Report by Dickens Wasonga, Ruth Mbula, Elizabeth Ojina, Vitalis Kimutai, George Odiwuor and Justus Ochieng’