Alarm raised over spike in home deaths in Mombasa

Wednesday, May 20th, 2020 00:00 |
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe. Photo/PD/File

The government has raised the alarm over the rising number of people dying at home particularly in Mombasa county which now leads in the number of deaths, saying this is the latest impediment in the fight against coronavirus pandemic. 

During his daily briefing at Afya House yesterday, Health Cabinet secretary Mutahi Kagwe said the trend, which is developing in the coastal city, is worrying adding this is a new challenge that medical experts and authorities have to grapple with in a bid to flatten the curve.

Accompanied by his East African Community counterpart Adan Mohamed, Kagwe cautioned Kenyans against staying at home with sick persons, saying this trend is going to speed up the spread of the disease in communities. 

“People must not be kept at home. If you die at home it means the rate of infections would be a lot higher… If a person is unwell, please take them to the hospital,” said Kagwe. 

He said 30 per cent (15 cases) of the deaths so far occurred at home while 79 per cent of people who have tested positive are asymptomatic meaning they are showing no symptoms. 

He said the government is going to step up psychosocial support and re-integration strategy to help patients overcome the disease and stigma associated with it.

“As I have said before, the government cannot fight this disease alone, every citizen as a role to play by adhering to the measures that have been set,” he said. 

He warned those taking care of sick relatives at home that they are likely to contract the virus because they don’t have necessary expertise to handle such cases.

“The war is far from being won but there is good progress…” he said adding that majority of Kenyans are now wearing masks. 

During yesterday’s session, Kagwe presented a detailed analytical report presenting the situation in the country since the first coronavirus case was reported in the country three months ago.

Out of 1, 933 samples in the last 24 hours, 51 tested positive; bringing the number of confirmed cases to 963, he said. 

There was also a glimmer of hope after 22 more people were discharged from hospital bringing the total number of recoveries to 358, the number of deaths remains at 50.

Although Nairobi leads in the number of infections at 470, Mombasa has reported more deaths 27. 

According to the report presented by Kagwe, Nairobi and Mombasa contribute 83 per cent of the cases in the country with 23 out of the 47 counties having confirmed cases—Meru and Garissa counties being the latest to report. 

Majority of the confirmed cases are males (62 per cent) while females are 38 per cent with the disease which causes respiratory complications cutting across all age groups.

Mvita and Kamunkunji leads in the number of infections in Mombasa and Nairobi respectively. 

With 331 confirmed cases—the second highest in the country—Mombasa has contributed more than half of death toll, a challenge that experts were yesterday trying to crack. There were a total of 555 active cases in the country as of yesterday.

Kagwe took time to highlight importance of social distancing citing a case where one person in Kilifi has led to several infections in neighboring counties such as Mombasa. 

However, CS Mohamed attributed the high number of cases in areas inhabited by Muslim faithful to religious events such Ramadhan whereby communities come together to pray and break the fasting. 

“As a Muslim, I know there is a lot of coming together during this period of Ramadan and we forget measures such as social distancing… I want to appeal to our brothers to adhere to these measures and keep the disease away,” said Mohamed.

Although the two CSs downplayed the diplomatic tiff between Kenya and Tanzania after President Kenyatta ordered closure of its borders, they said the action was done in good faith and in concurrence with EAC protocols to combat Covid-19.

Kagwe said figures indicated a big portion of new cases was imported from neighbouring countries with truck drivers being the main culprits. The number of testing facilities have risen from two when the first case was reported to 20 - 17 of them being private entities.

Mobile testing labs have been dispatched to Namanga—the busiest border between Kenya and Tanzania—and Naivasha where truck drivers will be tested in the coming days. 

The government has also established short-term, mid-term and long-term goals that will lead to reopening of the economy and returning the country to normalcy. 

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