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Kirinyaga, Siaya doing badly in race for 300 isolation beds

Thursday June 25 2020
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Medical workers take care of Covid-19 patients in a ward at the west campus of the Union Hospital affiliated to Tongji Medical College of Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, on April 24, 2020.

By ANGELA OKETCH

Kirinyaga and Siaya are trailing in the race to have at least 300 isolation beds in each of the 47 counties. The two counties have fewer than 20 hospital beds, with Kirinyaga having 14 and Siaya 19.

They are followed by Nyamira with only 20, West Pokot 21, Bungoma 22, Nyandarua 23, Lamu 30, Trans Nzoia 32, Narok 40 and Tana River 42.

However, as the 10 counties struggle to meet the presidential target of 300 isolation beds, 12 counties have already surpassed it while 34 are on course to meet the target within the month.

Mombasa is leading with 432 beds, followed by Machakos (373), Nyeri (340), Kiambu (325), Uasin Gishu (324), Makueni (312), Kisii (310), Kilifi (308), Murang’a (305) and Homa Bay (300).

Presenting a progress report on the counties’ preparedness, Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, who chairs the Council of Governors, said that, cumulatively, counties had attained a total of 6,898 isolation beds, against the national target of 30,500 units.

He said 36 counties had a cumulative 343 ICU beds while 28 had a total of 337 ventilators.

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On human resources, Mr Oparanya reported that a total of 16,914 health personnel had been trained on Covid-19 management, among them 59,449 community health volunteers.

Speaking during a virtual meeting of the national and county governments’ coordination summit yesterday, President Uhuru Kenyatta told the governors that the reopening of the country's economy will be informed by the level of counties’ preparedness to respond to Covid-19.

“County readiness to respond to imported cases of infection will largely determine our national readiness to reopen the country as a whole,” he said.

 The meeting was also attended by Deputy President William Ruto and representatives of religious leaders and business sectors.

However, Mr Oparanya proposed that a multi-agency approach be adopted on disease containment by improving the testing capacity, contact tracing and enforcing the social mechanisms.

“The reopening of the economy will have a county-specific context. This will consider the county-specific sector priorities and their health system’s ability to cope,” he said, recommending that the Ministry of Health provide a scientific model of the spread of the disease, county by county, to determine how counties will address the gradual reopening of the economy.

He said counties with high numbers should not be forced to reopen, while those with low-risk sectors should be allowed to reopen while ensuring social distancing measures.

The governors recommended that cessation of movement should not be lifted, unless the proposed strategies are adequately implemented and should apply only to counties that have flattened the curve, such as Mandera.

They also recommended that the curfew be maintained with the current hours for as long as it takes to flatten the curve.

The governors pointed out that allowances for healthcare workers had not been released to counties.

“Following your directive, a committee met and agreed that the National Treasury release money to counties for three months. However, to date, the payments have not been effected and, unfortunately, healthcare workers have now vowed to go on strike, which starts next week,” said Mr Oparanya.

 Mr Oparanya said some counties have not received their allocation for May and no county had received disbursements for June.

He appealed to the President to intervene.

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