Mombasa boosts response as Covid-19 cases increase

Tuesday June 02 2020
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Mombasa residents use coronavirus spray booths installed at Coast General Teaching and Referral Hospital, on April 23, 2020. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By SIAGO CECE
By WINNIE ATIENO

When the first Covid-19 case was announced in the country, Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho was among the first leaders to set up an emergency response committee and isolation facilities to arrest the spread of the virus.

This is after the Health ministry placed Mombasa among 14 counties on high alert for coronavirus given its status as a point of entry.

Within the last two months, the county has refurbished Ramtullah private wing at Coast General Teaching and Referral Hospital as its main isolation unit, with 19 beds.

Mr Joho has launched a 300-bed capacity treatment centre at the Technical University of Mombasa. He also launched four ICU ambulances.

“If we need to transfer a patient to a more severe care facility like the one at Coast Provincial General Hospital, we can comfortably do so,” Mr Joho said.

“The beauty of this partnership is that we will have also agreed on a structured, shared human resource plan. Doctors from all the hospitals will contribute their personnel to this facility so that we have a dedicated workforce and a plan that will help us fight Covid-19.”

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At Coast General Hospital, the county has converted and dedicated its Lady Grig maternity wing, with a bed capacity of 150, to handle moderate cases of the virus.

HOTSPOT

Out of these, 30 beds will be handling critical cases that may require oxygen and ventilator support.

Mr Joho said another 60 beds will be dedicated to expectant mothers who contract the virus. “This is going to be a Covid-19 maternity (ward), where the Caesarean Section will be done,” he said.

The county has also ensured that other hospitals in Mvita and Tudor are used as additional isolation units.

Even as Mombasa prepared for the worst, a lot of the infections have proven to be asymptomatic, and not requiring hospitalisation.

But the county remains one of the hotspots in Kenya, with Old Town and Mvita being the regional hotspots.

As of Wednesday , Mombasa’s case load had shot to 350 while 22 people had lost their lives. Likoni, Changamwe and the Port of Mombasa are also emerging as hotbeds of the virus in the county.

The culture and lifestyle of Mombasa residents— including communal gatherings and sharing of meals during the month of Ramadhan — have been cited as factors that have been fuelling infections.

Mr Joho has also decried “sheer irresponsibility and recklessness” saying many residents still do not believe the disease is real.

MASS TESTING

He said Mombasa is now grappling with community transmission.

The county boss also linked the rapid spread to businesses that are still running, including the Kenya Ports Authority.

It is because of the risk factors that the government imposed a total lockdown on Old Town, as well as encouraged mass testing to flatten the curve.

The testing drive faced resistance and apathy in its initial stages, with some residents of stoning medical staff and ambulances.

However, things have been improving after Mr Joho and other leaders encouraged them to take the test boosted by the government’s decision to foot quarantine bills incurred at public facilities.

Besides setting up facilities, the county government has set aside Sh200 million in the fight against coronavirus. Mombasa also started a fund, raising money from the private sector and business community.

The Coronavirus Tracker