County bosses fear Covid cases could get out of hand

Thursday, November 5th, 2020 00:00 |
President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House, Nairobi, follows proceedings during the virtual UNSC debate. Photo/PSCU

Noah Cheploen and Hillary Mageka

Governors yesterday pushed for the reintroduction of stringent measures to contain the spread of coronavirus.

In his remarks during the Sixth Extraordinary Summit on coronavirus situation, Council of Governors (CoG) chairman Wycliffe Oparanya, pleaded with President Uhuru Kenyatta to enhance the measures saying that the situation was getting out of hands. 

The Kakamega governor painted a grim picture saying the health facilities are overstretched, making it difficult for the devolved units to admit and manage new patients. 

Oparanya expressed concern that the disease might even spread further inside the counties and villages. 

“It is actually an acute crisis because counties are no longer admitting new patients.

We shall be asking that we re-examine the easing of restrictions as we strategise on the containment measures in the wake of the emerging new infections and fatalities,” said Oparanya. 

Breaking point

He said: “We are heading to breaking point because things are getting out of control. We cannot even transfer patients from one county to another.” 

He said that governors wanted curfew hours extended from 9pm-4pm among other things. 

Oparanya, whose county has been ravaged by the virus, said that governors had adopted a new slogan “No Mask, No Service” in a bid to encourage Kenyans to wear face masks particularly when seeking services in government offices.

Kakamega is one the counties that has been hard-hit by the virus. Oparanya’s Chief of Staff Robert Sumbi succumbed to the virus last week. 

 The Ministry of Health has blamed failure by Kenyans to adhere to preventive measures like wearing of face masks, washing hands with soap and keeping social distance.

The ministry has also blamed the surge in numbers on heightened political activities in the country. 

The President emphasised the need for soul-searching by every leader saying that the surge in numbers, was as a result of failure in enforcement of safety measures that were put in place at the onset of the virus in March. 

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe described the last week of October as the “worst in the country’s history with coronavirus” with at least 100 deaths having been reported—the highest since the virus arrived in the country in March.

More than 10, 000 new infections were also reported in October—a new record—as the virus spread across the counties like bush fire.

As of Tuesday, the death toll stood at 1, 039 while the number of confirmed cases was 57, 053. 

Oparanya on his part blamed the laxity in the enforcement of the existing protocols for the second wave.

He cited the transport, entertainment, trade and tourism as the notorious sectors flouting Covid-19 protocols.

He asked that various guidelines on funerals, religious institutions, and social gathering be implemented in their original form.

Failure to implement the health protocols, he said, has significantly contributed to the escalating cases and collapse of the contact tracing effort, due to the numbers that attend political meetings and those that socialise in bars.

The recently released Building Bridges Initiative report has thrown the country into a heightened political mood, partly fuelled by the 2022 presidential succession politics.

Deputy President William Ruto, who has been very active politically since the lifting of the containment measures announced on Tuesday that he was scaling down his activities.

Scale down

“The upsurge in Covid-19 cases strongly indicates that a second wave may be in the offing. For this reason, I have decided to significantly scale down my public engagements until further notice.

The empowerment meetings for this weekend in Machakos, Kitui, and Makueni are postponed,” he tweeted.

 Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua, who has also been popularising his 2022 presidential bid through meet-the-people tours in various counties also postponed his activities.

“I urge other leaders to also, be responsible and halt their public meetings and to lead by example by wearing masks and keeping distance,” said Mutua.

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