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Covid-19: Relief as testing, quarantine in public facilities now free

Wednesday May 6 2020

Macharia, Kagwe and Amoth at virus briefing

Transport CS James Macharia, Health CS Mutahi Kagwe and acting Health Director-General Patrick Amoth during the Covid-19 daily briefing at Afya House in Nairobi on May 6, 2020. PHOTO | SILA KIPLAGAT | NATION MEDIA GROUP  

NASIBO KABALE
By NASIBO KABALE
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SAMWEL OWINO
By SAMWEL OWINO
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Those suspected to be infected with the Covid-19 virus can now be quarantined in public facilities for free.

The government announced the change on Wednesday as the country continued to record double digit increases in new infections.

While announcing a total of 582 confirmed cases since March 13, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said tests in government facilities will also be free of charge.

“The ministry would like to announce that the cost of targeted testing and that of government quarantine facilities shall be met by the government effective today,” he said.

The move is meant to encourage more Kenyans to get tested as many had expressed fears of being forced to foot steep bills at quarantine centres if they test positive.

MPs' MOTION

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Hours after Mr Kagwe’s announcement, the National Assembly passed a motion compelling the government to pay the bills for people taken into mandatory quarantine.

The motion, moved by Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir, exempts those isolated due violation of social distancing and curfew rules.

“It is unfair to make people pay for their quarantine at this time when everyone is facing difficult times,” Mr Nassir said.

The lawmaker said some people, especially in Mombasa, have been detained in quarantine facilities after failing to raise the quarantine fees.

Kenyan patients travelling from abroad in the coming days, Mr Kagwe said, will be allowed to isolate at home and other facilities as advised by their doctors.

HOME CASES

The CS expressed concern over patients staying at home while sick, stating that two people have died of Covid-19 at home in Mombasa, raising the death toll to 26.

This raised the number of Covid-19 cases identified posthumously to seven.

Acting Director-General of Health, Dr Patrick Amoth, said people dying of the disease at home posed grave danger to those around them.

He said that during this flu season, it may be difficult to distinguish between the flu and Covid-19 and urge those with symptoms to call the Covid-19 helpline.

RECORD HIGH

A record high of 47 new cases from 1,564 samples was announced on Wednesday.

The ministry said 32 of the cases were recorded in Mombasa, 11 in Nairobi, two in Busia and one each in Kiambu and Kwale.

“One patient at Kenyatta National Hospital came to Kenya from Tanzania through Loitokitok using matatus," Mr Kagwe said.

The CS also reported that eight more people had been discharged, raising the country's total number of recoveries to 190.

There are 222 people admitted in various facilities across the country, with one in critical care at the Kenyatta University Hospital.

TRANSPORT

Regarding transport restrictions, the government said cargo drivers must be tested at least 48 hours before travel and be issued with a Covid-19 free certificate that will be valid for 14 days.

“Before being let into the Mombasa Port, Nairobi and Naivasha, as well as at the border points, they will be required to submit the certificate," Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said.

He also noted that the commuter rail service had been identified as high risk, therefore, 40 coaches had been added to the 60 already in service to ensure physical distancing.

“There is also a sanitiser tunnel that commuters must pass through before getting into the train to ensure they don’t carry the virus into it," the CS said.

Mr Macharia also announced that a brand new ferry brought into the country late last month will be commissioned today to promote social distancing and improve services.