Scientists face uphill task in war on Covid-19

Monday June 29 2020

A woman is tested for Covid-19 at St Teresa’s Girls School in Eastleigh, Nairobi, last month. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NATION MEDIA GROUP


It’s a race against time for researchers amid the ever-increasing cases of Covid-19.

Health Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Rashid Aman said yesterday that scientists are working round the clock with their efforts informing containment and management measures.

Studies are ongoing to develop diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines for the disease, Dr Aman said at Monday’s press briefing.

“Scientists and public health professionals have been working to enhance the current level of knowledge about the virus, focusing on the local characterisation of the pandemic to determine who are affected, where and how,” he said.


The scientists are also trying to understand the disease spectrum and the end results of the virus behaviour so as to understand asymptomatic cases, severity of symptoms and fatalities.


“They’re also looking into interventions being implemented, their level of success and the extent to which they have contributed to successful containment of the pandemic, reducing illness and mortality of Covid-19,” the CAS said.

While Covid-19 is a new virus, its transmission and management may not be entirely unique. As such, the Ministry of Health (MoH) has been applying experiences and lessons learnt from Sars-Cov and Mers-Cov responses to build capacity in managing Covid-19.

He added that they were leveraged on the successful interventions developed and implemented to control and manage other infectious diseases like HIV and tuberculosis.

Through the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri), the MoH has been in the lead on all local and international collaborative Covid-19 researches, Dr Aman said.

The ministry, the CAS said, has been “scientifically tracking all affected and exposed people in the country, developing a knowledge base that has led to developing Covid-19 testing strategies, management protocols and pandemic containment efforts”.

The MoH hopes to share the findings of studies undertaken, particularly on the level of exposure or sero–prevalence of Covid-19 in the country.

As of Sunday, there were 6,070 confirmed cases of Covid-19, out of which 5,538 were local transmission, accounting for 91 per cent of the total case load, with bulk of the infections recorded in Mombasa and Nairobi counties, Dr Aman said.


“These same counties have the highest attack rates of Covid-19, at 119.6 and 68.9 per 100,000 population respectively when compared to 12.8 per 100,000 for the rest of the country,” he said.

Nairobi leads with 3,031 cases followed by Mombasa with 1,445 while Busia, which has become a high-risk county due to a concentration of cross-border truck drivers, had 407 followed by Kajiado with 242, and Kiambu with 222. Other counties had less than 100 cases.

Monday, 120 more people tested positive, raising the country’s total caseload to 6,190 since March 13, when the first case was reported. These were tested from 2,221 samples, bringing to 167,417 samples that have been tested in the country.

Dr Aman said all the new patients, with the exception of five, were Kenyan. The youngest was six and the oldest 83.

Nairobi, the capital city, led with 67 of the cases. Mombasa County followed with 17. Machakos and Kajiado (nine each), Kiambu (8), Uasin Gishu (4) and Nakuru, Kilifi and Narok followed with two each.

Dr Aman also announced the recovery of 42 more patients, raising the total number of recoveries to 2,013. One patient died, raising the death toll to 144.