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Covid-19: Governors call for total counties lockdown as cases rise

Wednesday May 6 2020

Cobvid-19 message on matatu

A matatu with a social distancing message, to prevent further spread of the coronavirus, is pictured at Maili-Tisa on Eldoret-Kitale road on May 5, 2020. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

NATION TEAM
By NATION TEAM
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Two Rift Valley governors have called for a total lockdown of counties to curb the spread of Covid-19 amid an increasing daily tally as mass testing takes place.

Hillary Barchok (Bomet) and Paul Chepkwony (Kericho) said the measure is necessary and should be taken urgently to prevent a crisis.

Dr Barchok noted that cases will continue to multiply if the government does not make the move as the disease has spread beyond Mombasa and Nairobi, the two main affected cities, to 16 out of the 47 counties.

"This is a matter that needs to be taken seriously and acted upon immediately so that we can go back to normalcy and revive the economy," he said.

Speaking separately, Professor Chepkwony said he was worried about the people's casual approach and defiance to regulations by the Health ministry and the government.

"The solution to bringing this to an end is to implement a total lockdown in counties so that the numbers can be contained ... so that we can re-open the country for economic revival," he said.

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KISUMU'S STAND

The call came as Kisumu Governor Anyang' Nyong'o said he will not allow eateries and restaurants in the lakeside county to re-open until the government provides enough testing kits for staff.

The governor said he asked the Health ministry to provide the kits but was told that they were unavailable.

“The kits are not there in the whole country so in Kisumu we are saying that until the government provides them, no eatery or restaurant will be opened," he said.

"We are not taking these measures because we want to punish our people but because we care for their lives."

Prof Nyong'o said everybody who enters the county is checked for the disease and that at least 152 contacts had been profiled.

He spoke as he received donations by Diakonia Compassionate Ministries, Kenya Secondary School Heads Association, Make Me Smile and Living Goods, including water tanks, soap, face masks and hand sanitisers.

HOMA BAY

Meanwhile, two people who escaped from quarantine at the Kenya Medical Training College (KMTC) in Nairobi were arrested and taken to the KMTC in Kapsabet, Kericho.

In Homa Bay, where one case was reported, the county is in the process of setting up two more isolation centres in Ober in Rachuonyo East and Kisegi in Suba.

There is one isolation unit with 18 beds at Malela heath centre in Ndhiwa while special rooms with at least three beds have been set up in all the eight sub-county hospitals.

In addition, Governor Cyprian Awiti said the county will receive 10 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds for the county referral hospital.

“We will have a total of 80 beds when the two new isolation centers are set up,” he stated.

The governor said Homa Bay had not received any funds for Covid-19 interventions from the national government.

He instructed the roads department to improve connections to the two new centers, especially in Suba which has no tarmac road.

Fifty three of the 57 people who were quarantined at the Homa Bay KMTC were released after testing negative for the virus.

MIGORI

In Migori, where two Covid-19 cases were reported over the weekend, 17 close contacts were put in mandatory quarantine as county health teams continued tracing more people.

The 17 were traced to their homes in Kuria East Sub-county by officials from the county's rapid response team who were following the contacts of a 32-year-old patient and her child who are under treatment at Macalder Isolation Center in Nayatike.

County Health Executive Iscah Oluoch said those quarantined at Mabera Sub-county Hospital included close family members and neighbours suspected to have interacted with the two. Their samples were taken for testing.

Health officials are also closely monitoring 11 people who used a public vehicle to travel from Nairobi on Saturday. They were taken to the Mabera isolation unit.

Governor Okoth Obado said the 11 boarded a matatu from Nairobi but were intercepted by traffic police officers after members of the public alerted them.

But matatu operators’ chairperson Samwel Doe refuted the report and said all the 11 people were from Kisumu.

“We have their travel records in our Kisumu office. The people in mandatory quarantine are being subjected to unnecessary torture,” Mr Doe said.

VIHIGA

In Vihiga, one of the counties in Western Kenya that is in a watch list, Governor Wilberforce Ottichilo said isolation centres were set up in each of the five sub-counties.

This is in addition to the isolation ward at the county referral hospital in Mbale town.

Dr Ottichilo said mandatory mass screening is being conducted at its border with Busia and Siaya counties.

"People from Uganda, Busia and Luanda should be screened. Anyone with a high temperature will be isolated," he said.

Reports by Vitalis Kimutai, Rushdie Oudia, George Odiwuor and Ian Byron