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Don’t drop your guard, counties not prepared to handle high virus cases

Tuesday July 07 2020
nyamira

Governor John Nyagarama (in red tie) officially opens the Nyamira County Covid-19 Isolation centre on June 2, 2020. As Covid-19 numbers rapidly rise, patients could have a rough time getting hospital admissions. PHOTO | RUTH MBULA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By NATION TEAM

Dropping your guard against coronavirus may be costly as most counties still lack the capacity to handle patients.

As Covid-19 numbers rapidly rise, patients could have a rough time getting hospital admissions as it also becomes clear that contact tracing will be a daunting task with the lifting away of movement restrictions.

From Tharaka-Nithi to Wajir and many other counties, the situation is the same, with patients left to their devices should they require hospitalisation.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe Tuesday ruled out coronavirus referrals to Nairobi.

HOME-BASED CARE

“We are heading to an unpredictable place and are not sure if hospitals in Nairobi will cope,” Mr Kagwe said during the briefing.

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The ministry gave the green light to home-based care for asymptomatic patients last month but with strict guidelines.

Should the situation of a patient at home deteriorate, the family would have to make many calls to get a hospital bed.

In Nairobi, for example, public and private hospitals have few beds left, with MP Shah already full.

CRITICALLY ILL PATIENTS

Families of critically ill patients who sought admission were urged to try Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral and Research and other hospitals.

But the 24 ICU-bed capacity hospital can only have eight admissions at once because of the patient-nurse ratio.

This is not good news for patients who may not afford the high amounts charged by private hospitals.

Infectious disease units at Kenyatta National and Mbagathi hospitals were full during the weekend.

ISOLATION WARDS

Other city hospitals like Mater Misericordiae are making plans to have Covid-19 isolation wards and ICU beds.

There are only 1,316 isolation beds in the six coastal counties.

Mombasa, which has the second highest cases in the country at 1,646, has begun recording a drop in coronavirus patients at its two isolation centres.

Mombasa has 442 isolation beds, followed by Kwale (340), Kilifi (318) while Taita-Taveta has 143.

Tana River has 43 beds as Lamu trails with 30.

ICU BEDS

Public hospitals in the Coast region have 29 ICU beds and 39 ventilators spread across Mombasa, Kwale, Taita-Taveta and Kilifi counties.

Mombasa has 14 ventilators, with 14 of them at Coast Teaching and Referral Hospital. The hospital also has 12 ICU beds.

The other isolation centre is at Technical University of Mombasa, with 290 beds. The centre was 55 per cent occupied by the end of yesterday.

Mombasa chief health officer Khadija Shikely said home-based care has helped reduce the number at the isolation stations, giving the devolved government room for more admissions if need arises.

WORKING WELL

“It is working well. There has been a drop in patient numbers at the centres. Many have demonstrated they can quarantine themselves at home while not infecting family members,” Dr Shikely said.

Kilifi has seven ventilators and the same number of ICU beds at the county medical complex.

The county has the second highest number of Covid-19 cases in the region at 69, with more than half having recovered.

Its seven isolation centres remain unused as the coronavirus cases are being handled at the medical complex.

KWALE COUNTY

Kwale has recorded 58 Covid-19 cases. There are 10 patients at the county’s isolation centres.

The Msambweni Annex Covid-19 Centre has less than 10 patients. It has 13 ventilators and 10 ICU beds.

Murang’a and Nyeri counties have surpassed President Uhuru Kenyatta’s target of 300 isolation beds, making them the only counties in Mt Kenya to have achieved the mark.

Coronavirus numbers are expected to shoot up in the region following the lifting of the ban on movement to and from Nairobi. Nyeri has 340 beds while Murang’a has 305.

UNDERUTILISED

Mt Kenya Hospital in Nyeri has 30 isolation beds, Mukurweini (130) and Kenya Medical Training College centre has 180.

The isolation beds in Nyeri remain underutilised, with only 10 reported Covid-19 cases.

“We have followed the government guidelines and are ready to handle patients should the numbers increase,” Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga said.

Kirinyaga County is considered a high risk area as it does not have proper isolation centres.

ONE ICU BED

The county has only one ICU bed and no high dependency unit.

It is banking on the completion of a modern complex at Kerugoya Referral Hospital in August.

Embu is not fully prepared to handle the coronavirus pandemic, with Kenya National Union of Nurses county branch secretary Joseph Ngwasi saying health workers are not equipped to deal with large numbers of patients.

“The county has about 50 beds in the isolation ward while there are not enough trained health workers to handle the pandemic,” Mr Ngwasi said.

“There is not a single testing machine Embu.”


By Allan Olingo, Winnie Atieno, Irene Mugo, Sarah Nanjala, Hellen Shikanda, Alex Njeru, Charles Wanyoro, Jacob Walter, George Munene, Bruhan Makong, Waweru Wairimu and James Murimi.

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