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Covid-19: Kin of discharged patients to be monitored

Monday June 15 2020
OPUKA

Mr Stephen Haggai Opuka in his isolation ward at Kenyatta National Hospital infectious disease unit on April 17, 2020. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP.

By BERNADINE MUTANU

Close family members of discharged Covid-19 asymptomatic patients will be monitored for 14 days, the Ministry of Health has said.

This is one of the guidelines on home-based isolation and care programme launched on Wednesday.

Household contacts will fill in the symptom monitoring schedule for the period a patient will be on home-based isolation and care.

They will state Covid-19 -related symptoms and temperature for the 14 days.

The symptoms include coughing, difficulty in breathing, fever, sore throat, general body fatigue, headache and sneezing.

The data collection tool is a component of the ministry’s “Jitenge” monitoring system.

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“Jitenge is an at-home Covid-19 short code and text message-based system created for the purpose of monitoring household contacts, the patient and those discharged,” the ministry says in its guidelines.

Healthcare workers in charge of isolation homes, apartments or institutions will file weekly reports on the progress of the released patients and their kin.

These reports should be uploaded to the system so that they are accessible to the county and national rapid response teams “for any further oversight and action”.

Healthcare workers may also visit homes where necessary.

“The workers should submit monthly follow-up reports on discharged patients,” it says.

According to the guidelines, the reports should reach the Kenya Health Information System by the fifth of every month.

The reports will then be analysed and the ministry will give responses or take action in collaboration with devolved governments where necessary.

To make the system work, the government will utilise community health volunteers “who will be the communication link between healthcare workers and the households for the duration of home-based isolation. The volunteers will also be involved in the assessment .

In informal settlements and slums, where households share spaces, the community will need to identify an institution that meets the recommendations suitable for providing care.

The Nyumba Kumi initiative will support care among rural communities, according to the guidelines.

“Where a majority of people live in apartments, the support of committee members managing the area may be sought, together with healthcare workers and friendly security,” the guidelines say. If a person develops symptoms while on home-based care, he or she should be referred.

“In case of queries or worsening symptoms, patients or caregivers are advised to call or send a short message to 719 immediately,” the ministry says. in the guidelines.

The patient or caregiver should notify the designated healthcare worker who will assess the situation and refer the person if necessary.

According to the guidelines, asymptomatic patients will be released when at least 14 days have passed “since the date of their first positive Covid-19 test and they have not developed symptoms since then”.

Patients who have no fever for at least 72 hours without using medicine and other symptoms have improved should be released from the home-based care and isolation after 14 days since the first symptoms appeared.

“Isolation can stop after two consecutive Covid-19 negative tests – some 24 hours apart,” the ministry says.

The report recommends education on basic measures of preventing the spread of the virus to be given to the patient and household members.

The guidelines were developed in collaboration with the University of Nairobi, Kenyatta National Hospital, Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Council, the World Health Organization, US Centres for Disease Control, USAid, SDI-Kenya, Kenya Health Professional Oversight Authority and the Population Council.

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