Experts predict safety after country ‘peaked’ pandemic

Monday, September 7th, 2020 00:00 |
Acting Director General of Health Patrick Amoth.

Noah Cheploen and Clement Kamau

A new report by the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) shows that the country might have crossed the danger zone in the fight against coronavirus between June and July and now marching towards safety.

The 32-page report authored by some of the top virologists in the country and other medical experts led by Acting Director General of Health Dr Patrick Amoth indicates that the peak for Nairobi and Mombasa occurred between May 25 and July.

Thereafter, the infection rate started to decline, the report attributes this to restriction of movement and other containment measures.

It further warns that a surge in new infections could be experienced in future if population movements continue.

However, the infection rate is predicted to still be rising in other more rural counties, most notably counties constituting the former Rift Valley, Eastern and North Eastern provinces, it says.

“We forecast that the final county to reach peak infection rate will be the arid and sparsely populated Wajir County,” says the report released on September 3.

This came even as Kenyans had a reason have a reason to be hopeful after the Ministry of Health yesterday reported a significant drop in daily coronavirus infections—only 83—from some 3, 093 samples tested in the last 24 hours.

While both the government and the WHO have warned Kenyans recently against dropping the guard noting that the country is not out of the woods yet, yesterday’s figures could be the turning point in the fight against the disease.

The last time that the country reported a two-digit figure was on June 22 where 59 cases were reported while the highest point so far is the 960 cases reported on July 26.

Shortage of reagents

Although there has been a significant drop in the number of samples tested in the last one month because of shortage of reagents, the fact that the positivity rate now stands at below five per cent is proof   that the virus is being neutralised.

WHO stipulates that a country should be able to keep the positivity rate below five per cent for at least 14 days for the graph to be said to be flattening, signaling victory.

Yesterday, Health Cabinet Secretary  Mutahi Kagwe said in a statement that the country’s caseload and cumulative tests now stands at 35, 103 and 474, 477 respectively. 

On a positive note, 72 more patients have been discharged bringing the number of recoveries to 21, 230.

“Today, 72 patients have recovered from the disease, 39 from the Home-Based Care Programme, and 33 have been discharged from various hospitals,” Kagwe said.

“Sadly, three patients have succumbed to the disease, bringing our fatality to 597. Our condolences to the family and friends of those who have lost their loved ones,” he added.

Nairobi, which is the epicenter with about 60 per cent of the total national tally, leads again with 27 new cases followed by Busia 15, Kisumu 12, Nakuru seven, Machakos seven, Kiambu five, Laikipia three, Kisii three, Kirinyaga one, Mombasa one, Nyandarua one, and Uasin Gishu one. 

The Ministry of Health has attributed the declining number of cases to strict adherence to the containment measures by Kenyans particularly in the first three months of the disease. The first case was reported in the country in March.

Meanwhile, Kiambu county has announced plans to open hospital facilities that were designated to handle Covid-19 patients for other use following the drop in the number of positive cases being recorded in the country.

Governor James Nyoro said that Covid-19 care centers will be converted to serve ordinary patients should the virus reduction trend continue.

He said that the county has for the last few weeks been recording reduced cases and is no longer marked as a hotspot area.

He attributed the milestone to adherence of containment measures by the residents among them wearing masks, sanitising, washing hands regularly and social distancing.

Covid care centre 

For the last three weeks, governor Nyoro said that Tigoni Hospital, the largest Covid-19 care centre in the county has not been registering patients suffering from the deadly virus and has since been fumigated.

In all other facilities across the expansive county, the county boss revealed that only eight patients have been admitted after contracting the virus and are being managed.

Nyoro, however, warned that the virus is still a threat to the community and urged Kiambu residents and Kenyans at large not to relax the laid down protocols.

Speaking at the county headquarters after he received personal protective equipment donation from Safaricom Foundation, the governor said that most of the infrastructure erected by the county and friends of Kiambu will better service delivery in the health department.

“We are excited that the numbers have continued to reduce and most importantly our county’s rank nationally.

Our entire Covid-19 care centers have eight patients only whom we hope will be discharged soon.

If the trend continues, we will convert the wards to start admitting ordinary patients,” he said.

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