North Rift residents working in Nairobi who wish to travel to the region will be forced to go on a 14-day quarantine in a designated facility.
This follows a decision by governors from the region to bar outsiders from travelling there even during the Easter holiday.
The eight governors under the North Rift Economic Bloc (Noreb) said all people from all the counties that have reported positive cases of the coronavirus must be quarantined in a county facility if they dare travel to the region.
In a raft of tough measures aimed at stopping the spread of Covid-19 in the region, the Noreb governors said they are not taking any chances in warding off the virus from finding its way to the vast area.
“We strongly advise our residents living outside the region not to travel home, especially over the Easter weekend. For those who, despite this advice, decide to travel to the region, quarantine facilities have been identified in each county. Such residents will be required to submit themselves for screening and mandatory quarantine in a county facility,” said the governors in a statement.
So far, not a single case has been reported in the area although the first patient who succumbed to the disease came from Trans Nzoia County but was taken to Mbagathi Hospital in Nairobi before travelling upcountry upon arriving from South Africa where he was suspected to have picked the deadly disease.
Kenya has reported 126 cases with four deaths, including a six-year-old child since the first case was confirmed on March 13. Four people have recovered so far.
The governors from Turkana, West Pokot, Trans Nzoia, Baringo, Elgeyo-Marakwet, Uasin Gishu, Nandi and Samburu also agreed to force all employers in the region to provide face masks to all their workers.
“All employers must henceforth provide face masks to their employees. We encourage members of the public to put on and ensure correct and consistent use of face masks, especially when visiting public areas,” said the county bosses.
Despite no single case being reported within the North Rift, the governors have been pushing the government to allow the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) to start testing for the coronavirus.
TESTING AT MTRH
Last week, the Ministry of Health heeded the request allowing the national referral hospital to begin testing this week.
On Sunday, MTRH Chief Executive Wilson Aruasa said the hospital is ready to do the tests but that they are still waiting for the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (Kemsa) to supply them with the critical reagents for the tests.
“We are waiting for reagents from Roche, through Kemsa. Otherwise we are ready to test them (samples),” Dr Aruasa told the Nation.
Once it begins testing, MTRH will handle at least 960 samples within eight hours and is expected to offer relief to the main testing centres at the National Influenza Centre in Nairobi and the Kenya Medical Research Institute labs.
Presently, samples of suspected cases from the region are sent to the National Influenza Centre in Nairobi, but with the push to have more testing centres, the Ministry of Health last week gave the nod to MTRH to be the centre for western region that covers the North Rift and most of the western Kenya counties.