Residents flee Old Town Mombasa over forced testing

Monday, May 4th, 2020 00:00 |
Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho with county medical team inspect an isolation centre, recently. Photo/PD/NDEGWA GATHUNGU

It has emerged that dozens of families have fled from Old Town area of Mombasa, in the wake of rising Covid-19 cases and threats to force them to be  tested for the disease.

The residents, who have shunned the State-sponsored mass testing for the fifth day running started relocating to other sub-counties yesterday, sparking fears of further spread of the virus.

Those who talked to People Daily on condition of anonymity said they fear contracting the disease or being caught up in targeted lockdown after threats issued by Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho on Saturday.

Out of the 28,000 residents targeted for mass testing in the area, only 197 have voluntarily been tested, while huge populations have now begun moving to other areas to avoid the exercise.

Control movement

A spot check by People Daily established that Kaderboy Medical Clinic (Old Town) which had been turned into a mass testing facility remained deserted since Sunday despite the immense campaign by the authorities to have people come out for testing.

Joho on Saturday threatened that the residents could be subjected to forced testing if they do not test voluntarily.

By Sunday, the area had recorded 42 out of the 143 positive cases in Mombasa.

Yesterday, the county government said it is holding 271 people in its five quarantine facilities.

The centres include Kenya Medical Training College (KMTC) in Mvita, KMTC Port Reitz, Mombasa Beach hotel, Technical University of Mombasa (TUM) and Likoni School for the Blind. 

County Chief Public Health officer Aisha Abubakar has sent a stern warning to the villagers against relocating to other parts of Mombasa.

She called on residents to alert authorities whenever they spot unfamiliar faces within their neighbourhoods.

“We are warning people against relocating from Old Town; don’t think we can’t trace you where you go. We are working with police and other authorities to control these movements and we urge the public to expose unfamiliar faces in their neighbourhoods,” said Abubakar.

Mohamed Kale, an Old Town resident, says he has not gone for the testing because he fears, if he tests positive, he and his family will be forced into atwo-week quarantine and he has no money to pay for the isolation.

Provide nurses

However, speaking after bailing out 39 persons previously held at the Mvita KMTC, Abubakar said the centre has about 136 people who are in forced quarantine.

“All the people quarantined at the centre will have to pay for the services, Mombasa county is only involved in providing nurses... the county will only chip in in very serious situations,” she said.

According to Florence Wachira, officer in charge of the centre,15 people quarantined at the facility have tested positive. She said the facility is charging all individuals Sh2,000 daily.

Muslim clerics have attributed the low number of people turning up for the mass testing exercise to stigma, poor living conditions at quarantine centres and hefty bills after discharge. 

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