Country staring at health crisis as virus cases soar

Wednesday, June 10th, 2020 12:00 |
Health Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Rashid Aman.

Noah Cheploen @cheploennoah

The country was yesterday staring at a health crisis due to the rising coronavirus cases after 127 more people tested positive and three others died in 24 hours as the spotlight turned to Kibera and other informal settlements.

While presenting the current situation in the country, Health Chief Administrative Secretary Rashid Aman said the number of confirmed cases now stands at 2,989 while deaths rose to 88 with Nairobi leading with new infections. 

In total, Nairobi reported 62 cases followed by Mombasa (34), Busia (14), Kiambu (four), Kilifi (four), Kwale (four), Machakos (four) and Uasin Gishu (one) all collected from the 2,247 samples tested within the period. 

Kibera reported the highest number of cases in Nairobi with 21. At the same time, the number of health workers who have contracted the disease has risen to 72 with 19 of them considered active. 

Of the 127, 124 are Kenyans while three are foreigners residing in the country, said Dr Aman. “Since we reported our first case in mid-March, our infection numbers have been swelling, and we are now almost hitting the 3,000 mark,” he said.

Once again, all the 14 cases reported in Busia are from truck drivers tested at Malaba border an indication that cross-border infection could be on the rise. Dr Aman regretted that some drivers are flouting measures put in place. 

Following rules

“They are required to be tested at least 48 hours and secure a Covid-19 free certificate before commencing their journeys but some of these drivers are still not following the rules,” he said. 

He said the government was considering all available options to contain spread of the virus in the informal settlements noting that the nature of these habitats present unique challenges due to high poverty levels. 

According to the experts, our epidemiological curve is sharply rising in many regions, implying that, going forward, we are likely to record increasing numbers of positives and more people requiring clinical management, said Dr Aman.  

On a positive note, 24 patients were discharged bringing the number of recoveries to 873 while the numbers of people tested so far have risen to 100,683. 

“We face a challenging but not hopeless situation, for as long as our approach to defeating the virus is based on solidarity,” he said.

“We have no choice, but to work together, share resources, and deploy the proven strategies that we have learnt along the way, which is the way out,” he said, adding that the only weapon against the virus is obeying the stringent measures put in place. 

“The first one is the need for social and physical distancing. Social distancing remains the best strategy in containing the spread of the virus because it is carried by human beings,” he sad. 

He added that staying at home had proved to be the best strategy in fighting the deadly virus. However, he said some countries paid a heavy price by lifting the containment protocols too soon. 

Citing the upsurge in infections in some countries which forced them to re-introduce the restrictions, Dr Aman said the government approached the re-opening of the country with a lot of caution so as not to erase the gains made so far.  

According to him, the second major impediment in the fight against the virus which causes respiratory illness is stigma towards those who have tested positive saying this should not be tolerated at all.

Pose threat

“Stigmatising anyone during a pandemic poses a threat to everyone,” he said, adding that stigma undermines efforts channelled towards fighting the disease citing the earlier days of HIV/Aids and Ebola. 

“Stigma divides and turns us against each other, yet pandemics remind us of how connected we all are,” he said.

“We must therefore care for each other, hold each other’s hands, walk together in this fight and remember that none of us is free of coronavirus until all of us are free,” he said.

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