More closures amid infections surge

Wednesday, October 28th, 2020 00:00 |
Workers at the Mombasa County Assembly which was closed down yesterday after several cases of three MCAs tested positive of coronavirus. Photo/PD/NDEGWA GATHUNGU

Mombasa County Assembly and the Likoni sub-county hospital were shut down yesterday after three MCAs and eight health workers tested positive for Covid-19 as infections continued to surge exactly a month after President Uhuru Kenyatta partially re-opened the economy.

Deputy Speaker Fadhil Makarani confirmed the assembly has been closed for two weeks to pave way for fumigation.

“The three were tested after developing symptoms for the virus and they results came back positive.

They have been isolated while the rest have been advised to self quarantine,” said Makarani.

At the Likoni hospital, the health workers tested positive after coming into contact with a nurse who succumbed to the virus last week. They included nurses, doctors and subordinate staff.

The Kenya Union of Clinical Officers, Mombasa branch secretary Franklin Makanga confirmed the closure of the health facility, saying the affected workers had been advised to self isolate. 

The rising numbers come at a time when the country is staring at a second wave of infections after the latest data showed that the virus had hit double digits.

Yesterday, 836 persons tested positive for the virus out of a sample size of 4,076 representing a 20 per cent infection rate, the highest in recent weeks.

The worrying trends came as the country marked exactly one month since president Uhuru Kenyatta relaxed the stringent containment measures imposed in March to curb the spread of the virus, allowing the resumption of learning for Grade four, standard eight and form four candidates.

But on a positive note, the economy, mainly tourism appeared to pick up following the relaxation of Covid-19 travel restrictions.

 According to the Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (KAHC), at least 40 per cent of hotels and resorts in the Coast region have reopened after shutting down for months, with some recording more than 50 per cent bookings.

 Most hotels at the Coast facilities have come up with favourable packages to attract domestic tourists.

 “With the phased reopening (of the economy) we expect a recovery in domestic tourism, which accounts for 53 per cent of Kenya’s hotel room occupancy,” KAHC Coast branch Executive Officer Dr Sammy Ikwaye said.

 But even as the infections continued to soar, experts led by Prof Omu Anzala, a member of the National Emergency Response Committee (NERC) downplayed fears of a second wave, terming the latest trends as a mere spike in numbers due to enhanced testing.

“This is a spike and not a second wave and it is as a result of heightened testing. Previously we had targeted testing,” he explained.

He attributed the low number of infections in the past to challenges posed by inadequate re-agents and testing kits as well as the time that was taken before the testing was done.

Prof Anzala, however, called for stricter enforcement of containment measures in Nairobi and Mombasa counties, which he warned could witness a second wave of Covid-19.

“Nairobi and Mombasa counties have to be careful on the issues of bars crowding and eateries, there needs to be more strict measures,” he warned.

He spoke as Mombasa, one of the Covid-19 hotspots alongside Nairobi, Nakuru, Kilifi, Kisii, Kisumu, Homa Bay  and  Bungoma, was forced to close down two schools after a head-teacher died and 20 learners tested positive for Covid-19.

County Director of Public health Dr Salma Swaleh said that Tononoka Boys secondary school whose Principal succumbed to the virus Monday morning, is the worst hit by the novel virus with 16 positive cases out of 120 samples tested so far.

According to Swaleh, four more cases were detected at Star of the Sea Secondary school after 156 samples were tested.

 On Monday, Tononoka secondary school principal Mohammed Khamis died four days after he was admitted at the Coast General Teaching and Referral Hospital Intensive Care Unit after contracting the virus.

Three teachers at Tononoka secondary school were admitted at the Port Reitz Hospital while seven students were recuperating at the Coast General Teaching and Referral Hospital isolation wards, sources told People Daily.

Kenya National Union of Nurses Mombasa branch chairman Peter Maroko said that two health workers had also succumbed to the virus while undergoing treatment. 

“The two died after contracting Covid-19 in their work stations, they were being treated at the Coast General Hospital before their situation deteriorated and were transferred to ICU where they succumbed,” he said.

He added that one of the dead nurses was attached to a public hospital while the second nurse was working in a private facility within Mombasa.

 Cumulatively, Mombasa has so far recorded 93 deaths, while 3, 693 have tested positive from a total of 63,673 samples tested. Of the 3,693 cases 97 are health workers.

 The surge comes at a time when Kenya, which is among ten African countries carrying the bulk of Covid-19 caseload in the continent, has been warned of a more serious second wave should the laxity in the enforcement of public health protocols continue.

 In Homa Bay, the county government yesterday cautioned residents against laxity in observing Covid-19 protocols amid the surging virus infections.

 County health executive Prof. Richard Muga expressed concerns over the manner in which people had relaxed on adherence to Covid-19 protocols, while exuding fears that the trend could result in a spike in new infections in the county.

 He said mass testing was ongoing at the Homa Bay County Assembly after an MCA tested positive for coronavirus last week leading to the suspension of the county assembly sittings for two weeks.

 “We are also undertaking contact tracing for Covid-19 cases and testing the contacts,” he added.

 The concerns come after a number of the county residents seem to have stopped putting on masks and observing other anti-Covid-19 protocols such as social distance.

 According to Prof Muga, the county currently has 12 active Covid-19 cases who are admitted in various Covid-19 isolation centers at Kandiege, Nyagoro, Pala Masogo, Pala Koguto, and Homa Bay prison.

The county has 103 cases of Covid-19 infections since an outbreak of the pandemic in the country. Among them are six health workers whom one of them succumbed while five have recovered from the disease.

The increase in numbers came just days after the Uasin Gishu County Assembly members were sent on compulsory leave over Covid-19 fears.

 The 46 MCAs and 10s of staffers were directed to proceed on a 21-day leave after it emerged that Huruma Ward Rep Peter Chomba, who collapsed and died had posthumously tested positive for coronavirus.

The move came after the county recorded 74 Covid positive cases on the highest number in recent months, including that of Huruma MCA Peter Chomba who succumbed to the virus on October 10.

In Bungoma, the county assembly was forced to close down after top officials tested positive of Covid-19 after three MCAs tested positive.

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