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Turkana residents told to be calm as no virus case reported

Tuesday March 24 2020

Turkana County Health Executive Jane Ajele

Turkana County Health Executive Jane Ajele addressing journalists outside her office in Lodwar town on March 23, 2020. She told residents not to panic as no coronavirus case has been reported in the county, urging them to be vigilant. PHOTO | SAMMY LUTTA | NATION MEDIA GROUP  

 SAMMY LUTTA
By SAMMY LUTTA
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A senior Turkana health official has assured residents living in the vast county that authorities are yet to confirm any coronavirus (Covid-19) case there.

This comes amid panic by residents of the populous Lodwar and Kakuma towns after 11 people, including foreigners, were quarantined.

County Health Executive Jane Ajele confirmed that the situation of a 72-year-old American of Somali origin who had last week been isolated at a Kakuma hospital for having high temperatures after being screened at Lokore road block along Lodwar-Kakuma road has normalised.

Ms Ajele said the man had not undergone isolation since flying into the country from Boston, USA on March 16.

ISOLATION

"It is a normal and a compulsory procedure that we put him in isolation for 14 days just like any other new arrivals before clearing him. He has not yet shown any symptoms of Covid-19," the county official said.

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The man was in the company of his son, grandson and a driver and was in the county visit his relatives at the Kakuma refugee camp.

Their vehicle was also held for sterilisation.

PANIC

There was also panic after a Chinese national was spotted at the Lodwar County Referral Hospital. The Chinese had visited the hospital for normal medication.

Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok had confirmed that seven Chinese nationals working for a roads construction company in Lodwar last week tested negative for the coronavirus after being isolated for 14 days.

He noted that Turkana has heightened surveillance at all points of entry and across the county.

The county promised to ensure that blood samples of anyone showing symptoms of Covid-19 are sent to either the National Influenza Centre or to Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri).

YOUTH TAKE LEAD

Youth in Turkana have taken the lead in promoting proper handwashing with clean water and soap as well as use of hand sanitisers.

Led by Mr Paul Jalinga, the youth said they will ensure that people in all towns, especially public transport users, are observing proper hygiene to keep the coronavirus at bay.

"We have ensured that all passengers, especially those travelling to Kakuma, Kalokol and Kitale, wash their hands and apply sanitisers to avoid the spread of the deadly disease. We also talk to drivers about the dangers of the disease because they are among the most vulnerable people," Mr Jalinga said.

HYGIENE

A top cleric in the county has at the same time urged both the county and national governments to take stringent measures to ensure high levels of hygiene and sanitation are put in place to combat the spread of Covid-19.

Restoration Mission Church Founder Malcolm Lochodo wants both levels of government to improve access to adequate clean and safe water, especially in informal and remote settlements.

"One of the stringent measures being advocated is to ensure we clean our hands with soap and clean water as well as sanitise them. I am happy Kenyans have embraced this as this culture will fight other diseases," Dr Lochodo said.

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