State turns attention to safety of healthcare workers as virus cases hit 281

Tuesday, April 21st, 2020 00:00 |
Medics check on equipment at the Mbagathi Hospital isolation ward in Nairobi recently. Photo/PD/FILE

Noah Cheploen @cheploennoah

The government has now turned its attention to protecting healthcare workers—often referred to as the frontliners— even as the number of infections rose to 281 after 11 more people tested positive.

In his daily briefing yesterday, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said a special designated isolation and treatment facility for healthcare workers had been opened, adding that the facility, based at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH), is going to offer both critical and basic care services.

Noting that the isolation and treatment facility is a product of collaboration between the government, Rockefeller Foundation and Amref, Kagwe said all costs incurred during treatment shall be catered for by the government. 

The government, he said, is grateful for the provisions given to the country by the above institutions and urged medics and healthcare workers to submit themselves for testing and where found positive, to adhere to the quarantine protocols.

Train workers

Kagwe said the government moved in to protect healthcare workers since the nature of their job means that they are prone to exposure. 

“In some countries health care workers contributed up to 13 per cent of cases and we do not want to go there,”  he said.

The CS added that the government had distributed 4,759 complete Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) kits and 237,047 assorted components (goggles, surgical masks, N95 masks, gloves, gowns, rubber boots, shoe covers, among others).

He said all quarantine sites and port health facilities have also received assorted protective gear, adding that the Ministry of Health has also trained 30,000 healthcare workers and training is still ongoing.  

“The target is to re-sensitise 100,000 more workers in the next few weeks,” said Kagwe. 

Last week, the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) officials led by chairman Dr. Samuel Oroko and acting secretary general Dr. Chibanzi Mwachonda said 20 of their members had tested positive, claims the government dismissed as fantasy. 

Coincidentally, out of the two people who were discharged yesterday, Kagwe said one was a doctor who had contracted the deadly virus in line of work. He said one more doctor is still undergoing treatment in one of the facilities. 

Expand testing

The number of people who have recovered since the first case was reported one month ago now stands at 69. The number of deaths remains at 14. Giving a breakdown of the 11 new cases, the Cabinet Secretary said five are females and six males aged between 11 and 80 years. 

He said 33 quarantine centres holding 483 individuals are currently active while 455 people have been quarantined in various parts of the country for contravening curfew rules.

Kagwe added that testing has been hampered in the last two days because of global shortage of some of the components, a fact that was reinforced by Acting Director General of Health Dr. Patrick Amoth. 

 He, however, said testing had been expanded from the current 10 centres and will now be conducted in each of the 47 counties within the next two weeks following approval of four new testing methods.

“The Pharmacy and Poisons Board is now accelerating regulatory decisions regarding approval of Covid-19 test kits,” he said.

The CS also appealed to the health facilities managed by both the Central and county governments to settle any pending bills owed to oxygen suppliers. Oxygen is a major component in the treatment of coronavirus. 

He also urged institutions and firms owning oxygen plants to ensure that they are in proper condition and functional.

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