Governor Joho: A total lockdown will save our city
Murimi Mutiga and Reuben Mwambingu
As Mombasa continues to record an exponential growth in Covid-19 infections, Governor Hassan Joho yesterday asked President Uhuru Kenyatta to put the county on a complete lockdown.
Joho’s call comes against the backdrop of the Port of Mombasa being marked as the “ground zero” for the explosion of coronavirus with 22 of the 79 confirmed infections in the county, being the authority’s staff.
Speaking yesterday when he launched a 300-bed capacity Covid-19 hospital and four ICU ambulances at the Technical University of Mombasa’s Engineering department, he decried a worrying rate of infections in the county, saying the only way to stop the trend is through total lockdown.
“The results we are getting from mass testing at KPA are worrying. This is not a joke. This is almost 10 per cent.
These people live among us. They interact with us and as a result the virus is spreading,” he said.
“It is time we discussed total lockdown. There are no two ways about it. And I have heard so many stories challenging the idea with most people citing economic challenges as reasons why we should not have a lockdown in Mombasa.
But honestly, Kenyan population is very vibrant, we can recover economically but we may not recover healthwise. So, we need to be alive for us to recover economically.”
He spoke as Health Chief Administrative Secretary Mercy Mwangangi said yesterday during the daily Covid-19 briefing that 12 people had tested positive for the virus in Mombasa out of the 17 cases reported countrywide.
“Fifteen of the new cases were picked by our surveillance teams while two are from quarantine facilities.”
This means Mombasa now has 79 cases while Nairobi has 212.
Joho expressed fears of unprecedented spike in the cases in the next few weeks even as the County Emergency Response on Covid-19 Committee ordered immediate closure of a supermarket after one of its staff tested positive for coronavirus.
This comes at a time when President Uhuru Kenyatta has directed the National Command Centre on the Coronavirus Pandemic to review the enforcement of public health measures rolled out to stem the growing rate of infection in Mombasa, Kwale and Kilifi with a view to introducing more stringent measures to enhance the enforcement of the same.
In a statement on Wednesday, Interior CS Fred Matiang’i said results of the review were to be announced within 48 hours which will elapse today (Friday).
And from the targeted mass testing, KPA now stands out as the institution with the highest number of the Covid-19 in the country.
According to records, 11 of the 22 cases at the port are from the Conventional Cargo department where one of the staff succumbed to the virus.
Out of the those who tested positive at KPA, 13 cases were picked during mass testing which began on Friday last week.
KPA said some 633 employees have received results for the tests while those who were tested yesterday will get theirs today.
A senior official told People Daily that out of 72 cases tested on Sunday, five turned positive while on Monday there were five more cases from 204 tests.
On Tuesday, 200 tests were undertaken, out of which three tested positive.
He said all of those who have tested positive have been admitted at the Mombasa county Covid-19 isolation centre.
“None of those who have tested positive had signs of illness. They are asymptomatic. The target is to reach 1,000 staff as per the test kits given by the government.”
The National Emergency Response on Covid-19 Committee has identified KPA as one of the risky transmission points for the virus and the ministry of Health has dispatched 1,000 testing kits for the ongoing mass testing.
KPA has about 6,000 staff and other employees from contracted companies who visit the port of Mombasa on daily basis.
Vessels carrying hundreds of ships crew also dock at the port daily. Those already infected are KPA employees and contracted workers among them cleaners working at the port headquarters.
This high concentration of people in the facility could be the reason for the spike.
KPA general manager operations Captain William Ruto, however, said so far no crew of any ship calling at the port has tested positive and, therefore, the cases reported at port are local transmissions.