Ministry warns of possible second Covid-19 wave

Wednesday, October 14th, 2020 00:00 |
Fumigation exercise at the Ministry of Health offices in Nairobi. Photo/PD/File

The country is staring at a possible second shutdown due to the sudden surge in coronavirus infections as Kenyans continued to throw caution to the wind.

Ministry of Health officials yesterday warned that the emerging trend could lead to the closure of schools and re-introduction of stiffer restrictions on movement.

Speaking yesterday at the Kenyatta National Hospital, Health Chief Administrative Secretary Dr Rashid Aman said the possibility of the country being hit with a second wave of Covid-19 has now become a reality.

Aman concurred with Prof Omu Anzala, a virologist, who opined that Kenyans had dropped their guard and were living as if the situation had returned to normal.

“In the last seven days we have seen the country’s Covid-19 positivity rate rising from five per cent to 12 per cent positivity by today. It is quite a dangerous sign that we are moving in the wrong direction,” said Dr Aman.

Prof Anzala on his part stated: “It is quite terrifying to see the recklessness with which Kenyans are going about with their businesses.

Though the figures had drastically gone down, we are not yet out of the woods. Kenyans must continue abiding by the laid down protocols.”

The CAS warned that the government may be left with no alternative but impose new restrictions and possible closure of schools, which only reopened this week after seven months, unless the numbers change for the better.

“We shall obviously have a second wave of Covid-19 and if we find the numbers are rising to unmanageable levels, we will revert to movement restrictions and perhaps even close schools,” he said.

While announcing reopening of the economy and easing of movement restrictions on September 27, President Uhuru Kenyatta had warned Kenyans that a resurgence of infections would force the government to reintroduce tough containment measures which will further hurt the economy.

Yesterday, Dr Aman disclosed that in the last 24 hours, the country had recorded 318 new Covid-19 cases from a sample size of 2,592 tests, saying the numbers were rising steadily. 

He said though students and pupils are less likely to spread the virus, asymptomatic cases might be a hard nut to crack in schools.

Big number

The warning came as the Nairobi Metropolitan Services announced that it will hold a two-day free testing for the city residents at the weekend.

NMS Director of Health Ouma Oluga said the move was informed by the big number of people travelling in and out of Nairobi due to the reopening of schools as well and the fact that the city remains the epicentre of the pandemic.

“Part of how to tackle a pandemic is that you test as many people as possible so that you are able to mitigate, isolate and treat among other interventions. Therefore, if we look at all these, Nairobi is the epicentre,” he told People Daily.

Meanwhile, health experts have attributed the resurgence of Covid-19 infections in major towns and other parts of the country to a growing tendency by the public to lower their caution and adherence to recommended protocols.

This came as a number hospitals continued to record increasing number of Covid-19 patients.

The experts also observed that the recent reopening of the country that was accompanied by a series of political gatherings was partly to blame for the new surge.

Some parts of the country, particularly Mombasa, Nairobi and Nakuru, have in the recent past been hit by a new wave of Covid-19 infections, thus recording a steady rise in caseloads.

In Bungoma, the joy of more than 500 remandees at the Bungoma GK prison who were to be released on bond was short-lived as the decision was reversed after 118 of them tested positive.

The facility was subsequently shut down with all the remandees who had been scheduled for release being denied the freedom to leave out of fear that they could become infectious to the public.

Bungoma GK Prison houses more than 2,000 inmates.

Reports indicated that 118 inmates had been put in one hall where they were being taken care of while five had been taken to Webuye isolation centre.

“Five of them were found asymptomatic with signs of Covid-19 and were immediately taken to Webuye Hospital,” aid Antony Walela, Health CEC.

The 118 positive cases is one of the highest number to be recorded in a single county in the region and it seems Bungoma may now be a new epicentre of the virus.

Sharp rise

Separately, the Nakuru County government also raised the red flag over a sharp rise in the number of new infections. 

Confirmed cases have risen to 1,500 after 273 more people tested positive in the last one week, according to Governor Lee Kinyanjui.

“This is an alarmingly high number if you look at Covid-19 trends in other counties. The sharp rise in infections is causing concern to investors, policy makers and the public,” noted the governor.

A total of 20,594 people have been tested across the county. Most of the new positive cases, according to the governor, were persons aged between 31 and 45 years.

The worst hit, according to the latest statistics, is Nakuru East and Nakuru West sub-counties. The pandemic has been reported in all the 11 sub-counties. The county chief noted that the department of health had increased the test target population from 1,000 to 2,500 in seven sub-counties, adding that a significant proportion of cases that have turned positive were asymptomatic.

In Busia, the Health Chief Officer at the County Referral Hospital Dr Isaac Omeri raised the red flag over the increasing number of inmates at Korinda GK Prison testing positive due lack of Personal Protective Equipment  and congestion.

Omeri disclosed that suspects remanded at Busia Police Station cells including inmates at the GK Prison end up being infected due to lack of masks and congestion. 

He implored family members whose relatives are remanded at police cells to provide them with masks to protect themselves from contracting the virus.

The Department of Healthm he said,  had set aside a section at Alupe Sub-County Referral Hospital in Teso South Constituency as an isolation and treatment centre to cater for positive cases.

In Coast, Dr Ramdhan Marjan, a Mombasa-based doctor disclosed that several private hospitals in the region and other parts of the country have already cautioned their clients and medical staff of increased cases of Covid-19 after more tests turned positive.

“Most hospitals, especially those that test every patient who visits the facility have confirmed that there is an unusual surge of positive cases and raised an alarm,” Dr Marjan said.

Dr Marjan, who is a member of Mombasa Muslims Covid-19 response committee disclosed that for public hospitals, the testing had gone down after the government stopped the mass testing and began concentrating on targeted cases. Stories by Reuben Mwambingu, Yusuf Masibo, Henry Andanje , George Kebaso, Bernard Gitau and Roy Lumbe

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