State to put up mobile testing labs at Namanga border post

Thursday, May 14th, 2020 00:00 |
Health ministry acting director general Patrick Omoth, CAS Rashid Amani, Director Nursing Services, Mary Nandili and Government Spokesperson Cyrus Oguna. Photo/PD/GERALD ITHANA

Bernard Gitau @benagitau

Access to the country through unmanned routes from other East African states is posing a threat to the containment of Covid-19 after 25 truck drivers tested positive at Namanga border.

Chief Administrative Secretary Dr Rashid Aman expressed concern about the high number saying in the next one week the government will put up mobile testing labs at the Namanga border post. 

“We tested truck drivers on Tanzanian side at Namanga border and 25 samples tested positive where 23 drivers are Tanzanians, one Rwandese and one Ugandan,” said Aman.

This comes as the country in the last 24 hours recorded 22 positive cases out of 1,516 samples tested. Out of those who tested positive, 21 are Kenyans and one Ugandan.

The number of Kenyans who have tested positive now stands at 737 and 40 deaths after four more people died in the last 24 hours.

Aman said 22 more people were discharged from hospital bringing the total of recoveries to 281.

With border points earmarked as Covid-19 hotspots and high risk due to truck drivers, Aman said mobile Covid-19 testing centres will help curtail cross-border transmission.

  “The mobile testing labs donated by EAC will be on the Kenya side to test anyone who is moving in and out of Kenya at Namanga border point,” said Aman.

With Tanzanian government’s failure to announce the number of cases, Acting Director of Health Dr Patrick Amoth said Kenya had an uphill task in addressing the spread of Covid-19.

“With high disease burden reported in our neighbours we have a big challenge considering people getting in through ‘panya routes’ and other undesignated places,” said Amoth.

Monitoring virus

 The mobile lab is key in surveillance and monitoring of the virus in this region, an area that has now been classified as high risk based on Covid-19 positive cases detected at border crossing points.

US government yesterday issued a health alert for Tanzania, saying the country has not released any Covid-19 data since April 29 this year.

In a statement, it said it points to “growth of the epidemic in Dar es Salaam”, where hospitals have been “overwhelmed.”

“US citizens who remain in Tanzania should be prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period. The US government does not anticipate arranging additional repatriation flights in Tanzania at this time.

However, in the event that opportunity becomes available, we are asking you to let us know if you are interested in being contacted,” the embassy said.

In the spirit of East Africa Community (EAC), Aman said he was not aware of the number of Covid-19 cases in Tanzania and as members of EAC and World Health Organization, the two countries are collaborating to fight the disease.

In yesterday’s tests, the youngest is 20 years old, while the oldest is 81 years. Seventeen are males while five are females.

Ten cases are from Nairobi, eight from Mombasa, three from Kajiado and one from Bomet. With Bomet registering a positive case, this brings to 20 the counties so far affected.

In terms of estates distribution in Nairobi: Embakasi has four cases, Kamukunji three, Kibra two and KNH one. In Mombasa the cases are from Mvita (seven) and Nyali (one). In Kajiado the three  cases are all from Namanga.

At the same time, Aman warned youth undermining the objectives of the National hygiene programme by forcibly demanding money from individuals within the neighbourhoods they are cleaning, to refrain from such practices.

Meanwhile, 33 healthcare workers have tested positive for Covid-19 since it was reported in the country on March 13, Dr Amoth has said.

During his weekly Twitter Chat, Dr Amoth said fortunately, the country had not lost any healthcare worker to the pandemic.

“The infections are either directly in the course of work or indirectly like I know of a doctor who visited a friend who was Covid-19 positive.

So healthcare workers contribute to about 5.5 per cent of the total number of coronavirus cases and we have not had mortality or the death of a healthcare worker,” he said.

  On the Covid-19 cases, he said 77 per cent of them are asymptomatic and all deaths in the country were persons who had underlying medical conditions.

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