Governors express fear over sudden rise in virus cases countrywide

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2020 00:00 |
Governors meet President Uhuru Kenyatta during a past Covid Summt in Nairobi. Most counties are ill-prepared for the expected surge in numbers. Photo/PD/FILE

Seth Mwaniki, Robert Ochoro, Noah Chepleon and Noven Owiti

Several governors have expressed fears over the sudden rise in coronavirus infections across the country, warning that most counties are ill-prepared to deal with the spike.

Speaking in their respective counties, Governors Anyang Nyong’o (Kisumu), Mutahi Kahiga (Nyeri), James Ongwae (Kisii), Lee Kinyanjui (Nakuru) and Muthomi Njuki (Tharaka Nithi) warned that the surge in the rate of infections was stretching health facilities in the devolved units.

Kahiga noted that 12 medical personnel had tested positive in the county and have been isolated at various health facilities.

“I want to say that as a county we are alarmed by the rise in community transmissions so far, our numbers continue to increase day by day. I am calling on Nyeri people to exercise utmost care,” he said.

He expressed concern that majority of residents are ignoring regulations set by the ministry of health, leading to the rise in infection rates.

Nyong’o warned that the facilities available in his county could not adequately handle the upsurge in infections.

He expressed concerns that most residents had stopped adhering to the government protocols if the county is to arrest the surging rate of infections.

Spike in spread

He warned that Kisumu was already witnessing a spike in the virus spread, noting that at least 27 cases had been reported at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga and Teaching and Referral hospital isolation centre, five of which are community transmissions.

He noted that a further rise in the numbers of Covid-19 cases could overstretch the county health facilities.

According to Nyong’o, Kisumu stands the risk of attracting more new infections because many people are now transiting to various destinations following the opening of the country.

 “The virus is not fiction, it is real. We are appealing to our people to take responsibility for containing its spread in their own hands,” said Nyong’o.

In Kisii, Governor Ongwae said plans were underway to convert a 50-bed hostel to an isolation centre.

He also announced that the county has contracted polytechnics to make masks to prevent the spread of the disease.

Equity Bank

The Governor, who spoke at Kisii Teaching and Referral Hospital after he received Personal Protective Equipment from Equity Foundation Chief Commercial officer, Polycarp Igathe, said Covid 19 cases were likely to increase due to the opening of the economy.

Kinyanjui on his part blamed the surge in infections in Nakuru to the lifting of the cessation of movement by president Uhuru Kenyatta early this month.

He said counties with comparatively low infection rates have been affected most by the lifting of the ban on movement. 

In addition, there is increasing laxity and reversal of personal responsibility measures that the government has recommended, Kinyanjui added. 

“We must not allow short economic gains to overshadow the greater public health risks,” he said, adding that the county government will continue to be vigilant by enhancing screening.

In Busia, the deputy governor Moses Mulomi urged residents to observe Ministry of Health guidelines on combating the pandemic.

Addressing the residents of Amukura Central ward during the official opening of Odeng’ero dispensary on Monday, Mulomi told residents that the disease is real and added there is need for all residents to be protected.

“Some of us think that the youth cannot be affected by the virus,” he posed, explaining that a number of youth have died of the virus.

Careless youth

Mulomi said careless youth risked infecting elderly persons with underlying conditions like hypertension with the virus back at home.

He at the same time advised the local residents to eat traditional food adding that 26 percent of the local residents were malnourished.

The DG pointed out that the County has a challenge of insufficient drugs in its health facilities due to low budgetary allocation.

“As a County we require a total of Sh460 million for drugs every financial year but during the last fiscal year, only Sh200 million was allocated,” he said.

Mulomi promised that the Executive will work closely with the Members of the County Assembly to ensure that the budgetary allocation is increased so that all health facilities have enough drugs throughout the year.

“We must work together to ensure that budgetary allocation for drugs is increased with a view to offer quality health services to the local residents,” he said.

In Tharaka Nithi, the Health CEC Dr Gichuiya Nthuraku confirmed that a 28-year-old woman from Maara Sub-county had tested positive for the disease, the second in the county.

Dr Nthuraku further confirmed that the first Covid-19 positive case that was reported last Friday was a 65-year-old man from Meru South Sub-county.

According to the governor Muthomi Njuki the first case was diagnosed from the 45 samples that the county health department had sent to Nairobi for testing.

“The elderly man has been taken to an isolation centre and contact tracing has been launched and I call on those who might have interacted with him to come out and volunteer for testing for their own good,” said the governor.

Njuki said the county was prepared to handle Covid-19 cases and has 234 isolation beds, out of a target of at least 330.

In Turkana county, some twelve people who had previously tested positive for Coronavirus have fully recovered, according to the County director of medical services Dr. Gilchrist Lokoel.

Lokoel said the county had recorded 28 active cases since the pandemic hit the country in March.

“We have 15 active cases at the moment, four at IRC Kakuma hospital and 11 at Kanamkemer sub county hospital in Turkana central,” said Lokoel adding out of the 15 only one is symptomatic.

In addition, the county has managed to screen 597,389 cases so far, he said.

“A total of 1,250 samples have been collected so far. More samples are being collected for surveillance and administrative purposes,” he added. He said a total of 100 people were in quarantine as at Monday.

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