Counties feel heat of Covid second wave

Friday, October 30th, 2020 00:00 |
Former Council of Governors chairman Wycliffe Oparanya. Photo/PD/VIOLA KOSOME

On the day the government confirmed the country is facing a second wave, the infections are rising faster and the deaths are more than the initial phase.

 Whereas Nairobi is the epicentre of the renewed infections, counties are hard hit with some administrations on the knees, after leaders and staff contracted the virus.

Yesterday, 716 people tested positive taking the national tally to 52,612 cases. 

The Kakamega county headquarters was under lockdown yesterday, while two others were staring at imminent closure after a top county official succumbed to the virus. Scores of MCAs and county government staff also contracted the virus.

Temporarily closed

Hardest hit was the Kakamega County headquarters after the County Chief of Staff Robert Sumbi succumbed to the disease, while dozens of the county government employees contracted the disease.

The situation was no better at the Homa Bay County headquarters and the Bungoma County Assembly, after at least eight MCAs went down with the virus, forcing the closure of the assembly for another 14 days.

Of the eight MCAs, six are from the Bungoma County Assembly and the other two from the Homa Bay assembly.

According to multiple sources, Sumbi died a day after Kakamega County headquarters was temporarily closed, following reports that 57 healthcare workers had contracted the virus. He had been admitted at Kakamega County Referral Hospital.

On Wednesday, 155 people were still in isolation while seven were said to have succumbed to the disease.

According to close friends, Sumbi, who served as the Environment minister in Oparanya’s first Cabinet was recently diagnosed with stage three cancer and has been undergoing chemotherapy at the hospital.  

On Wednesday, Oparanya closed down the county headquarters in a bid to contain the spread of the virus. Oparanya admitted that the situation was getting worse and urged workers to take voluntary tests.

Some of the hardest hit institutions include the county general hospital, Kakamega GK prison and Shikusa Prison.

Yesterday, Oparanya dismissed claims by medical workers that the county was ill-prepared to handle Corona cases due to lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) among other things.

“Health workers are professionals who know the dangers if they expose themselves in the course of the work,” he said.

“The epicentre of this disease in town is a bar located next to Bukhungu Stadium. Whenever you go there, you will meet these health workers drinking recklessly,” the governor said. 

In Homa Bay, health officers fumigated Governor Cyprian Awiti’s office yesterday after a member of staff tested positive for Covid-19. A similar exercise was conducted at the county assembly after two more MCAs and three staff contracted the virus.

The fumigation exercise was intended to minimise transmission of the virus to top county officials.

County Health Executive Richard Muga said the mandatory tests were initiated after an MCA, tested positive for the virus last week. The infection led to suspension of the county assembly sittings for two weeks.

Things are not difefrent at the neighbouring Bungoma County where six MCAs and seven members of staff, are said to have contracted the virus forcing Speaker Emmanuel Situma to close down the assembly for 14 days.

Targeted testing

Last week, Governor Wycliffe Wangamati moved to self-isolation after some of his close aides contracted the virus.

“The affected MCAs and staff members have been advised to go into self-isolation,” said Situma.

In Siaya county, Health officials have embarked on targeted testing after a Form Four student at Maranda High School contracted the virus last weekend. Siaya County Director of Public Health Kennedy Orwenjo said the affected student is in isolation.

Orwenjo said the student is receiving treatment at Bondo Sub-County Hospital and contact tracing is underway. Currently, there are 39 positive cases at the facility.

In Baringo County, fear was palpable after Leah Kulei, a teacher at Olmarai Day Secondary School in Mogotio sub-county, died while undergoing treatment in Nakuru on Monday. A university don also succumbed at Nakuru Nursing Home.

 In Kisumu, the county Covid-19 Multi-Agency Committee has instituted stringent public regulations as it seeks to curb a further spike in new infections. Kisumu has recorded a spike of Covid positive cases, in the recent past.

A total of 1,025 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in Kisumu, from a test sample of 11,737.  The county has recorded 12 deaths.

Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o said the spike in the Covid numbers calls for urgent measures to avoid an explosion of the disease.

Among the new rules include immediate removal and interment of bodies from the county morgues and restriction of burial ceremonies to a maximum of 200 mourners. The committee also banned night vigils with bodies.

Nyong’o said those failing to comply will face the full force of the law.

Speaking in Mombasa, Kagwe warned that latest statistics are looking grim, with all indications that Kenyans have dropped their guard and are no longer adhering to Covid-19 containment measures. – Reporting by Noah Cheploen,  Douglas Dindi, Yusuf Masibo, Noven Owiti and Eric Juma

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