Meru nurse forced to wear garbage bag as PPE

Friday May 15 2020

As a way to protect himself from Covid-19, the nurse wore plastic garbage bags. PHOTO | COURTESY


A nurse in Meru was last week forced to improvise personal protective equipment (PPE) from a plastic garbage bag before he attended to a patient suspected of suffering from Covid-19.

Images of the May 5 incident, showing the health worker wearing a garbage bag have been circulating online.

In one of the photos, the health worker is seen with his colleagues before he handled the patient.

The Nation independently verified that the incident happened at Miathene Sub-County Hospital in Tigania West on Tuesday evening last week.

Sources, who sought anonymity due to sensitivity of the matter, said the nurse resorted to use a plastic bag because there were no proper PPEs available at the hospital.

“There was a suspected case of Covid-19 that needed to be transferred to Meru Level Five Hospital on that day. The nurse was directed to accompany the patient in the hospital’s ambulance,” the source said.


When the Nation visited the hospital, the medical officer in-charge of the facility Laban Chabari said he was not authorised to speak to the media.

Health chief officer Kanana Kimonye said she had seen the photos but could not verify whether the incident happened in Meru.

"I received the photos and am informed that it happened in Miathene, but I cannot verify because I cannot see the face. If it did happen, I don't understand why the health worker would do that and take photos.

It was not reported to us that they needed the PPEs," Dr Kanana said. She added, ""By last week, we had 500 PPEs in the store and received 1,000 more this week."

Meru Health executive Misheck Mutuma termed the incident as "mere propaganda".

The welfare of health workers in Meru is likely to improve after the county government received a consignment of medical supplies from Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (Kemsa) on Wednesday.

Deputy Governor Titus Ntuchiu said the county received 1,000 complete PPE kits, 45,000 surgical masks and 1,000 hand sanitiser bottles from Kemsa.

“This adds to the consignments we have procured from the Authority, at a total cost of Sh28 million, in order to equip our medical personnel as we prepare against this disease,” Mr Ntuchiu said in a statement.

Last week, Kenya National Union of Nurses (Knun) Meru branch, in a letter to the county government, protested that its members have been left vulnerable and demotivated despite being in the frontline fighting Covid-19.