Red flag over new county virus hotspots

Thursday, July 23rd, 2020 00:00 |
Kiambu Governor James Nyoro. Photo/PD/FILE

Bernard Gitau @benagitau

The government yesterday raised the alarm over rising Covid-19 cases in Kiambu, Machakos and Kajiado, warning that the counties are emerging as the new coronavirus hotspots.

Health Chief Administrative Secretary Rashid Aman singled out Kiambu, which has recorded at least 274 cases in the last one week, as a cause for concern, alongside Machakos and Kajiado counties because of the sharp increase in infections.

“We are appealing to residents of these counties to strictly adhere to the containment measures for the spread of the virus to be under check,” he said during yesterday’s briefing.

Besides the three, other counties which have recorded a surge in infections include Busia, whose infections stood at 662 yesterday, Nakuru (234), Migori (223) and Uasin Gishu (180).

Aman attributed the rise, especially for Kiambu, Kajiado and Machakos which all neighbour Nairobi, to the government’s decision to ease movement restrictions in and out of the capital city, Mombasa and Mandera on July 6. 

“Since the easing of movement restrictions, Kenyans have relaxed and are doing things normally, life is not normal as our cases continue to rise.

Many Kenyans are going back to their normal ways of operating than adhering to new normal of wearing masks, keeping off crowded areas, washing hands and keeping social distance,” he warned.

The official disclosed that in the past one week, Kiambu had recorded three times more cases than Mombasa, which was the initial coronavirus hotspot, alongside Nairobi.

He explained that whereas at least 274 cases have been reported in Kiambu, only 85 cases had been recorded in Mombasa during the same period.

“There is need for Kenyans to exercise individual and civic responsibility as the first step to deal with the virus.

The safety of each and every one of us lies with an individual before it spreads to the society,” said Aman.

He spoke as the Kiambu county government took drastic measures to arrest the spike in the rate of infections in the county.

Governor James Nyoro ordered all employees of the county executive and assembly including CECs and MCAs to undergo mandatory Covid-19 tests.

Nyoro and Assembly Speaker Stephen Ndicho said the move would help to contain the spread of the pandemic in the county.

“The curve is notoriously and stubbornly heading straight upwards with no signs of relenting.

Some staff from the county government are already quarantined after testing positive,” Ndicho said.

“The tests will form the basis of admittances into all the places of work for the staff.

It is noteworthy that this is what is happening in all government institutions and consequently, the County Assembly can’t afford to be left behind,” he added.

Nyoro, while threatening to close all eateries selling alcoholic beverages to customers, said testing was ongoing at the county headquarters.

Members of executive

“We are taking the fight into our offices and as we speak, members of the executive are all set to be tested though the process will be gradual,” he said.

He noted that the rate at which the disease was spreading calls for tough measures and beseeched locals and Kenyans in general not to take the pandemic lightly.

“Bars remain closed until President Uhuru gives the nod to open the same.

There are some unscrupulous hoteliers operating as bars and restaurants and selling alcohol to revellers which is wrong and against the current circumstances,” he said, adding that such establishments risk having their licences revoked.

With a population of 2.4 million people, Kiambu is the second most populous county after Nairobi.

Like in Machakos, which has also experienced a spike in Covid-19 cases, the county neighbours Nairobi with some of its parts delineated as part of the Nairobi Metropolis.

The increase in cases could partly be attributable to proximity to Nairobi as well as a care-free life by the middle-class who have been engaged in parties often punctuated  by high consumption of alcohol in contravention of Health ministry protocols.

Kiambu County Commissioner Wilson Wanyanga on Monday warned bar owners that their premises will be closed permanently should they continue selling beer behind closed doors.

In Migori, which has also recorded a surge in infections, the county government was scrambling to put in place measures to contain the trend.

County Executive Committee (CEC) member in charge of Health, Dr Iscah Oluoch, disclosed that they had assembled five Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds at the county referral hospital to deal with critical cases of Covid-19 infections.

While giving a technical report during a meeting of the County Emergency

Response Committee yesterday, Oluoch said four ventilators had also been acquired to assist in managing patients.

She told the meeting co-chaired by the county secretary, Christopher

Rosana and Suna West deputy County Commissioner Mutua Mbella, that the bulk of positive cases so far registered in the county were from Migori prisons.

Out of the 219 registered in the county by July 12, 72 were from the prisons, prompting a probe at the facility to establish the cause.

Health protocols

It was established that all inmates, whether positive or negative, had been using one toilet and that there has been inadequate compliance to Covid -19 health protocols, reported Dr Oluoch.

In Nairobi, CAS Aman announced that the city had recorded 342 new Covid-19 cases out of 637 cases recorded countrywide yesterday.

“In the last few weeks, there has been a steady increase in our positive cases, something that has worried many people.

Of particular concern is the rising numbers in our capital city, Nairobi. Initially, Mombasa was recording higher cases but has since then began to stabilise.

This is good news considering that the coastal town is among our major tourist destinations,” he said.

“It has been noted that some bars have opened for business under the guise of eateries; no bars have been licensed to operate and anyone contravening the law will have to face the consequences,” warned Aman.

He said that easing of restrictions was not done out of ignorance by policy makers but to help Kenyans eke a living while adhering to containment measures.

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