Fear of Covid spike in Nairobi and its environs

Thursday, July 22nd, 2021 00:00 |
Health CS Mutahi Kagwe. Photo/PD

George Kebaso @Morarak

Nairobi, Nakuru, Kiambu, Kajiado and Machakos counties yesterday posted combined 386 confirmed positive cases out of the total 503, raising new fears that Covid-19 infections could be on a spike once again in these areas.

Experts warned that the positivity rate could be as high as 30 per cent if testing was being done properly, pointing to the low Covid-19 positive numbers coming from the Lake region counties for the past three days.

Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU) Secretary General, Davji Bhimji Atellah said yesterday that lack of testing could have compromised the positivity rate due to a huge consignment of test kits that’s stuck at the Port of Mombasa.

Positivity rate

“If there were enough testing kits, the positivity rate could be as high as 30 per cent, but since the testing in some counties especially those from the Lake region is low, such cases are not being captured,” he said.

In the latest Covid-19 update, the five counties posted a positivity rate of 9.5 per cent out of the total 12.4 per cent from 4,060 tests conducted in 24 hours.

This situation confirms recent fears by experts that new Covid-19 infections were once again rising in the five counties, and blamed the ongoing political activities in the country, accelerated by the just concluded by-elections in Kiambu.

Loice Ombajo, the head of the infectious diseases unit at Kenyatta National Hospital warned early this week, the Covid-19 infections in these counties was going up, and could necessitate revision of movement restrictions.

“We have noticed that Covid-19 infections in Nairobi and adjacent counties have started to go up.

This is also attributed to the recent activities in these areas where political leaders were addressing people on their way from churches,” she said on Monday.

The Ministry of Health indicated that Nairobi alone recorded 334 positive cases yesterday with Nakuru coming third with 21 after Kilifi’s 84, where political activities have heightened in the last two days. President Uhuru Kenyatta is also expected in the county today on a national malaria activity.

Through the National Emergency Response Committee (NERC) on Coronavirus, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe pointed out that Kiambu has recorded 20 Covid-19 positive cases in the last 24 hours followed by Kajiado (six) and Machakos (five).

“The total confirmed positive cases are now 194,310 and cumulative tests so far conducted are 2, 068, 760,” Kagwe said as the country lost 11 patients to the disease.

The 13 counties that are under a 45-day lock-down recorded just eight positive cases in the last 24 hours.

Siaya recorded the highest at four,  Bungoma; Homa Bay, Kisumu and Kericho posted a case each.

Tests from the other eight (8) were not captured in the latest report; a pointer to what Bhimji said yesterday could be lack of testing.

The positivity rate in these counties had soared to over 20 per cent prior to the lock-down announced in an Executive Order by the President on June 18, 2021.

However, according to Kagwe, the low numbers are not a sign of victory yet.

“I am very happy about the impact we have had in that region, I was very worried about that region but it is looking better now.

However, this is something that may keep happening in the foreseeable future,” he told K24 TV last evening.

The CS noted that the counties should however, ramp up their testing capacity so as to get exact statistics as possible.

“You can never base it only on the numbers. What about hospitalizations” what’s happening in the lake region?

You cannot make a decision on one aspect only…you start off by how many people have been infected, which also depends on how many people are being tested,” he added.

Drop in numbers

This notwithstanding, the drop in numbers in the Lake region magnify the data released for Nairobi, which in just one week showed that 1, 660 cases of new infections occurred.

This is more than three times the infections in the Lake region over the same period.

“In Nairobi, most of the hospital admissions about a month ago had gone down to very minimum single digit numbers, but right across most of them now, the numbers are up and are definitely on the rise.

So the modeling and the statistic show that the variant is spreading rapidly in the community and we expect the numbers to rise,” Dr. Robin Mogere, a urologist with Nairobi hospital said a fortnight ago.

140 patients are in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), 35 of whom are on ventilatory support and 78 on supplemental oxygen. 27 patients are under observation.

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