Kangemi, Kibera locals turn up for virus testing

Saturday May 30 2020

Residents of Kawangware, Nairobi, test for coronavirus on May 1, 2020. PHOTO | LUIS TATO | AFP


Kenyans are anxious to know their Covid-19 status, as evidenced by the high turnout, as the Ministry of Health conducts mass testing in hotspots.

Earlier, public health officers had to beg people to present themselves for testing, especially in Old Town, Mombasa, and Kawangware in Nairobi.

On Monday, public health officials conducting the tests in Kangemi were overwhelmed because they did not anticipate the high turnout, and had carried an inadequate number of testing kits.

“I am just curious because I want to know whether I have it or not. At least it is not a death sentence, and having it means you should take precaution to protect your family,” said Geoffrey Owino, who has a three-month old child.

In the densely populated Kibera, which has recorded more than 50 cases, people are lining up long before health officers arrive.

It is 9:35am and a woman, who identifies herself as Mama Tina, is queuing at Kamukunji grounds with her four-year-old child in tow.


“I work at a construction site, and I return home in the evening. I’m not sure whether we are safe. I just want to know our status. I wish the results were instant; the waiting is just too long,” she says.


In Kawangware, where dozens tested positive in the past week, people queue at a primary school to get tested.

“Now that the test is free, I have nothing to lose by coming here to know my status. The only thing I have to do is to ensure that I wear my mask and observe social distancing, and to be extra cautious not to get it at the testing centre,” said Ruth Omondi.

After the launch of the 11-day free mass testing in Nairobi last Wednesday, the county tested 3,144 people in five days.

The testing is being spearheaded by the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS). On Wednesday last week, 703 people were tested in Eastleigh, with another 427 in Dagoretti and Embakasi East.

NMS Chief Health Officer Ouma Oluga said the turnout has been impressive and that officials are planning to scale up the testing, aiming to serve more than 1,000 residents every day.

Tracking coronavirus