State measures on virus bearing fruit, says Kagwe

Tuesday, April 14th, 2020 00:00 |
Health Cabinet secretary Mutahi Kagwe (right) with acting Director Ministry of Health Patrick Amoth during a press briefing on Covid-19 at Afya House in Nairobi. Photo/PD/GERALD ITHANA

Noah Cheploen and Benard Gitau

There was a glimmer of hope in the war against coronavirus yesterday with Health Cabinet secretary  Mutahi Kagwe attributing the low rate of infections to the stringent measures the government has put in place to combat the spread of the pandemic. 

Although his briefing yesterday was one filled with hope, he explicitly warned that the government is not about to relax the rules among them the 7pm to 5am curfew saying such a move would be disastrous.

Kagwe, who was accompanied by his Education counterpart Prof George Magoha and Joe Mucheru (ICT), urged Kenyans to maintain high level of discipline by obeying the directives issued by the government. 

Speaking on a day that 11 new cases were reported—bringing the total number to 208—Kagwe, retracted his earlier statement where he had projected over 10,000 cases by April saying  the measures taken were bearing fruit. 

“It is very important for us to appreciate the fact that the steps that have been taken by the government have had some impact but I think it is important to appreciate that if we ease off on what we are doing then we might have a wave like you have never seen…” he said.

“It is not that we want to make people panic but I want to warn that a little success should not be construed to mean a real success,” he said, adding: “Yes, projections were a lot higher than they currently are… certain containment measures have had some effect but we’re not anywhere near the deep waters…” 

The fact that the country was making progress in the fight against the disease which has killed over 110,000 people cross the globe by yesterday was reinforced by Prof Magoha who expressed confidence that national exams will not be postponed. 

According to latest report presented by Kagwe, all 11 new cases are Kenyans: six males and five females all aged between one-45 years.

Of the 11, four are in Mandera, three in Mombasa, two in Nairobi and one each in Machakos and Nakuru. 

There was one death reported in Siaya which brings the total number of fatalities now to nine.

“We have scaled up our preparedness in response to contain the disease; we have scaled up our PPEs where we have spent millions of shillings, upwards of Sh140 million.

We have tested over 8,000 samples from quarantined persons and their contacts…” Kagwe said. 

He also acknowledged that there were genuine concerns on the burial of former Kenya Ports Authority employee James Oyugi in Siaya; but warned that cultural practices and norms may not be practical in some extreme situations.

“The Siaya burial has raised some concerns, we are currently addressing this with the County Government of Siaya.

However, I want to inform the country, that moving forward, there will be challenges.

I want to say in an honest a term as I can, and be brutally honest, that our cultural practices on how we dispose the bodies of our loved ones may not be practical in an extreme situation,” he explained.

“I, therefore, want our people to be mentally prepared and accept that COVID-19 victim bodies shall be disposed in a manner that protects the living from infections and in accordance with Ministry of Health burial protocols,” he added.

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