State unveils home-based care rules as 175 patients recover

Thursday, June 11th, 2020 22:00 |
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe. Photo/PD/FILE

Noah Cheploen  @cheploennoah

The government has taken a bold step in the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic by launching home based care for asymptomatic patients who comprise about 80 per cent of confirmed cases in the country. 

The announcement by the Ministry of Health yesterday coincided with the highest number of recoveries ever recorded in 24 hours—175—which now brings the number of patients who have recovered from the disease to 1, 048. 

It also came at a time when the number of confirmed cases in the country surpassed the 3, 000 mark after 105 more people—spread across 15 counties—tested positive, with Nairobi leading with 45 cases followed by Busia (18).

Health Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Dr Rashid Aman said the infections were collected from some 2, 273 samples tested within the same period which means that there are now 3,094 confirmed cases. 

 “We are delighted to inform you that we have discharged the highest number of patients in a single 24-hour period; we have discharged 175 patients from the various facilities who have recovered from the coronavirus disease,” said Aman.

At the same time, one more person succumbed to the respiratory illness in Nairobi, bringing the number of patients who have died since the first case was reported in March to 89.

By yesterday, some 102, 956 people had been tested majority of them from targeted areas. 

Aman and other senior ministry officials accompanying him singled out health care workers for praise, attributing the rising number of recoveries to their hard work, resilience, dedication, patience and sacrifice.

“We shall be failing if we do not recognise the good work by our healthcare workers, whose effort and dedication has made it possible to record these many recoveries.

I urge you to join me in appreciating them for this wonderful achievement,” said Aman.

Due to the first rising number of cases, Aman said it was no longer tenable to keep patients in isolation facilities, noting that they were already full while a biting shortage of health workers was being experienced. 

He added that the fact that majority of patients were asymptomatic made Home Based isolation and care a viable option. However, stringent measures and protocols have been put in place to ensure infection doesn’t spread. 

While the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that all laboratory confirmed cases of Covid-19 be isolated and cared for in a health care facility, it also recognises that not all cases can be cared for in a health facility when numbers are rising, he said.

“As you are aware, due to the rising numbers of Covid-19 cases, it is increasingly becoming untenable to isolate all patients in our health facilities for management and treatment,” he added.

He said care guidelines (see separate story) were available at the ministry’s website. 

He said that the protocol had been developed to provide a solution in the management of the increasing numbers and the anticipated surge in COVID-19 cases. 

According to available data, 78 per cent of the infected persons in the country were asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic.

“Therefore, they can be managed at home provided proper laid down procedures are followed,” he said. 

The guidelines include eligibility, care procedures, medical monitoring, referral system to health facilities when the need arises, criteria for determining recovery and community participation. 

Community Health Volunteers will be involved in the daily assessment of home-based patients and will be the key link between the healthcare workers and households. 

The country has been facing backlog, with about 5,000 samples yet to be tested because of shortage in testing kits.

The issue of truck drivers has also become a major point of concern with all the cases in Busia and Turkana coming from them. 

Acting director of Public Health Dr Francis Kuria regretted that truck drivers were still flouting regulations and protocols put in place which requires them to get tested at least 48 hours before they embark on their journeys. 

Home based care in informal settlements where households share small spaces will require identification of institutions within the community that meet the recommendations for providing such care. 

“Implementation of these guidelines begins immediately. I, therefore, urge all stakeholders involved in the care of Covid-19 patients to adhere to these guidelines and ensure that it cascades to all informal caregivers of these patients,” said Aman. 

The ministry has also appealed to non-governmental organisations and other well-wishers to join hands with the government to combat the pandemic which is wreaking havoc across the globe with over 7.3 million infects and slightly over 414, 476 deaths. 

According to the information provided yesterday, 96 of the new confirmed cases are Kenyans while 9 are foreigners; 77 are males while 28 are females. 

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