Panic at Busia school as 60 test positive
Irene Githinji and Sophie Njoka
Panic has gripped Salvation Army Kolanya Boys High School in Busia County, after 60 students and teachers tested positive for coronavirus, becoming the highest number of cases reported at a learning institution in the country.
Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong said a random test carried out at the school showed that out of 100 samples, 60 cases tested positive, 52 of whom were students, 6 teachers and two support staff. Those infected have since been isolated within the learning institution.
Ojaamong said the county government has dispatched a team of medics to the school to manage the patients, while the rest of the school fraternity has been quarantined within the premises.
“In the past few weeks, Busia has experienced an increase in number of positive cases. In this phase, we have seen community spread spiking, and my surveillance teams have been mobilised to ensure the disease is contained. It is important to note that in this second wave, cases are presenting with severe symptoms, unlike the initial cases,” Ojaamong stated.
This comes as Kenyans anxiously await the outcome of an extraordinary summit, to be presided over by President Uhuru Kenyatta today.
“The session will consider the evolution of the disease as well as epidemiological models of how Covid-19 may propagate within our country over the months of November and December. The session will also review the efficacy of containment measures in place, as well as the impact of easing restrictions that were in place,” said State House Spokesperson, Kanze Dena.
There has been a surge in the number of infections in the last one month, with the positivity rate standing at 10 per cent and more.
However, the national government has maintained that schools will not be closed for learners already in session comprising Grade Four, Class Eight and Form Four.
It is emerging that the government is mulling over the idea to recall Class Seven and Form Three in about three weeks time, the infections notwithstanding.
Cloud of uncertainty
This is part of the considerations that an education stakeholders’ meeting is expected to comprehensively debate on after the Covid-19 conference today.
“The more we fear the more we are creating problems. What we need to do is to ensure that both teachers, especially the elderly and learners are well protected. Our children are strong but this will be deliberated further in the upcoming stakeholders’ meeting,” said a senior education official.
This comes as a cloud of uncertainty continues to hang over Tononoka and Star of the Sea Secondary schools, since they are yet to receive directions on the way forward.
The two institutions closed following the outbreak of Covid-19 two weeks ago, remain in darkness over anticipated reopening of the schools.
A spot check by People Daily in both schools established no activity at all at the institutions. The schools were closed after Covid-19 cases were reported among students, teachers and subordinate staff.
A senior teacher at Tononoka school said the government was yet to communicate to the school administration, on the reopening guidelines.
“We ought to have been issued with the guidelines on health and safety measures, required upon closure of learning institutions due to coronavirus. However, there has been no communication from the relevant bodies, even after the lapse of 14 days,” said the teacher, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal.
Less than a week after the two schools were closed, Tononoka Principal Mohammed Khamis succumbed to the virus, sparking tension in the school fraternity.
Khamis was the first one to show symptoms of the virus and targeted testing at the school confirmed 16 positive cases out of a sample of 120.
With the turn of events, teachers interviewed yesterday were hesitant to go back due to fear of contracting the viral disease.
Mombasa Public Health Chief Officer Pauline Oginga said she was not in a position to address issues raised.
“I am currently in a meeting, kindly refer your questions to the county director of communications,” she said.