Kagwe outlines new rules to curb third Covid wave

Thursday, March 18th, 2021 00:00 |
Health CS Mutahi Kagwe. Photo/PD/Kenna Claude

The government yesterday outlined new measures to combat the Covid-19 pandemic in the wake of a third wave that is sweeping across the country.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe’s announcement came on a day the country recorded a total of 1,279 new infections, bringing the cumulative number of coronavirus cases to 116,310.

Kagwe warned Kenyans that they are largely on their own as a majority of hospitals are stretched, with some recording 100 per cent admissions compared to the month of January when cases were at 30 per cent.

He reiterated that at the moment Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds in Nairobi County are fully occupied.

“The spike has not stopped there, in the same period since mid-January we have lost an additional 200 individuals to Covid 19,” the minister said.

“Kenya is facing another surge, one that is not only varying from what we previously faced but a wave that is more aggressive, non-discriminatory strain attacking everyone from infants and those with no known comorbidities to those that are elderly and otherwise vulnerable,” Kagwe told a news conference in Nairobi yesterday.

While giving the daily Covid-19 updates, the minister warned that unlike before when most infections were asymptomatic, the current cases are serious and have led to mass hospitalisation.

Increased infections

He raised concern over the increase in the positivity rate, which has remained at an average of 17 per cent most of this month.

The CS spoke as Kenya recorded a surge in the number of deaths with 12 more people succumbing to the disease, bringing the cumulative number of deaths to 1,937.

Kagwe clarified that most ICU facilities in the counties were empty and thus encouraged Kenyans to take advantage and take their patients there.

“Moving forward it is likely counties will have to take care of their own cases; our facilities in Nairobi are already full,” he said.

He added: “Those who do not need oxygen must be looked at home as our ICUs are already full.

Homes should be prepared to host family members who get infected with the virus.”

To further deal with increased infections, Kagwe announced that counties will be required to convene immediately and form health task forces that will come up with measures of handling the pandemic.

Key among the priorities that counties should consider is ensuring piped oxygen is available and opening up all isolation facilities.

Further, counties should fumigate all public transport vehicles as frequently as possible while funeral homes will be required to strictly observe the 72-hour deadline to release bodies for burial.

“Counties to enforce all public health measures and penalise facilities flouting the rules. The task force is to ensure home-based isolation management is enhanced,” he said.

Security agencies, on the other hand, were directed to ensure that protocols issued by President Uhuru Kenyatta last week Friday are being adhered to without fail. 

The CS urged Kenyans to continue observing the laid down health protocols, clarifying that the arrival of vaccines in Kenya does not mean the country is out of the woods on the disease.

“Since I know there are those who see a contradiction between increased containment and vaccination, getting a jab does not mean relaxing in our wearing of masks, sanitising, or social distancing. In fact, the opposite is true,” he said.  

Kagwe clarified that the capping of the number of people in funerals at 100 does not only apply to Covid-19 victims but also those who died of other causes.

He announced that the government was working hard to improve mobility of patients by partnering with donors to ensure that more ambulances are available.

“There is no need to go to funerals only for you to be followed by another funeral. Let’s follow the guidelines as directed,” he said.

“Given the import of the prevailing situation, I urge counties to have all their ambulances on the ready for use in evacuating any severe cases requiring facility care from home-based isolation.”

And speaking separately, Kisumu governor Anyang’ Nyong’o issued new guidelines to stop further infections in the region.

Nyong’o decreed that all dead bodies within Kisumu County must be buried within 24 hours in compliance with new directives.

“In conformity with the new guidelines, dead bodies must not be preserved beyond 24 hours and no more than 100 people can congregate in a funeral, while catering has been banned in funerals,” Nyong’o said.

During yesterday’s briefing, Kagwe disclosed that 754 patients are currently admitted to hospitals, 2,167 under home-based care while 280 have recovered out of which 154 are from home and isolation care and 126 are from health facilities.

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