Matatu operators roped in readiness to tackle Corona

Wednesday, March 11th, 2020 00:00 |
Aga Khan University Infectious Disease Specialist in the department of Pathology Prof Rodney Adam addresses the press at the Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi yesterday. Photo/PD/ALEX MBURU

George Kebaso @Morarak

The government has widened its scope in readiness to tackle Coronavirus in case of an outbreak in the country by roping in the transport sector.

Yesterday,  the Transport ministry hosted the matatu and railway transport operators to seek their approval to support global efforts and locally by the government to minimise the threat of the COVID-19.

The move comes as experts at Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) asked Kenyans not to panic over the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak in other countries saying the disease is manageable through basic measures.

Speaking at the institution’s auditorium yesterday, Rodney Adam, an infectious diseases specialist in the university’s Department of Pathology and  AKUH medical chief of staff Majid Twahir said the anxiety the disease is causing in the country is unnecessary as there are other diseases that are far worse.

Attacks the elderly

“The virus is different from Ebola, influenza and other viruses which must worry governments more than the COVID-19 which mainly attacks the elderly,” Adam said during a presentation on Coronavirus.

In the transport sector meeting that was largely a closed-door affair but also attended by Ministry of Health officials led by Health Director General Patrick Amoth, the players are said to have been asked to strictly adopt hygiene practices.

Amoth confirmed that, a partnership with the transport operators has already kicked off, and will practically start with training and information sharing.

“We have come up with a training programme which we will share with our technical teams, and have agreed to start the sensitisation programmes. We will escalate this to all the counties in the country,” he said.

Amoth said the training will be based on an existing curriculum for health workers and members of the public.

Federation of the Public Transport Operators (FPTO) chairman Edwin Mukabana said the sector players were concerned with the availability of emergency response facilities in case there is an outbreak, and whether there are hotlines through which they can report.

“They answered all our concerns appropriately, and indeed this is an area we are going to ask our members to be vigilant.

We are also going to advise our members to follow these strict requirements to be able to be able to play a key role towards that direction,” he told People Daily.

The transport sector players also urged the government to come in and help to subsidise the cost of installing sanitation dispensers, which will be costly for the operators.

Transport Cabinet secretary James Macharia also cautioned the transport industry players against discrimination of anybody they suspect has come from China.

He also asked the matatu sector to mount hotline numbers that have been provided by the Health ministry in visible areas of their vehicles.

Meanwhile, the experts urged the public to remain vigilant and report to health facilities whenever they sensed danger. “Wash your hands always, use tissue while coughing and avoid touching eyes,” the expert said.

Adam said even though a cure has yet to be found, current efforts towards the development of Remdesivir, a trial drug, is promising, with trials expected soon in China and Europe.

“What we know is that for effective clinical trials of any vaccine to be achieved, it will take long,” he told a press conference at AKU  yesterday where the university’s leadership outlined a raft of measures the institution has taken to raise its preparedness in case of any outbreak.

“We are asking concerned players to enhance preparedness on taking care of the elderly in the country in case of a Coronavirus  outbreak, since the virus is not affecting children under 15 years,” Twahir said.

He said the university has identified 12 places where suspected cases will be taken for isolation as the basic management and eventual treatment will be carried out.

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