COMMUNITY TRANSMISSIONS

Garissa elders call for mass coronavirus testing

State urged to hasten tracing of contacts of the two patients to prevent further spread

In Summary

• On Monday, the Ministry of Health said two people from Dagahaley and Ifo in the vast Dadaab refugee camps had tested positive to the virus. 

• There has been an upsurge of community transmissions in Wajir county that borders Garissa to the north and Somalia to the east.

National livestock marketing council chair Dubat Amey talking to the press in Garissa office.
COVID-19 National livestock marketing council chair Dubat Amey talking to the press in Garissa office.
Image: STEPHEN ASTARIKO

Some Garissa elders have called on the national government to start mass testing for the coronavirus among county residents.

Led by the National Livestock Marketing Council chair Dubat Amey and Garissa Peace Committee secretary Hassan Osman, they said mass testing was the only sure way to know how many people are infected.

On Monday, the Ministry of Health said two people from Dagahaley and Ifo in the Dadaab refugee camps had tested positive to the virus.

 

Amey said they have all along been fearing the disease could be spreading among communities given the upsurge of cases in Wajir county that borders Garissa to the north and Somalia to the east.

“It’s most likely that the two victims could have contracted the disease from contacts in Wajir or Somalia. This is a cause for alarm for all of us who understand the effects of the highly infectious disease,” Amey said.

He added, “I urge on our leaders led by [Governor Ali] Korane and the national assembly majority leader to come on the ground and carry out sensitisation campaigns then test the residents.”

Goats drink water at the Garissa livestock market on Wednesday.
MARKET OPEN: Goats drink water at the Garissa livestock market on Wednesday.
Image: STEPHEN ASTARIKO

Osman said the government should heighten contact tracing of the two patients before the virus spreads further.

“As much as most of us are willing to be tested, the stigma associated with the highly infectious disease could be a setback in carrying out mass testing. Only our leaders can lead us in demystifying the disease and stop its spread,” he said.  

On livestock trade, Hassan said while the majority of residents who depend on pastoralism as their main source of livelihood were suffering following the closure of livestock markets along the border, the directive was good for the people.

“We are happy that the government has not closed down the Garissa livestock market. This one of the largest markets in East and Central Africa. I am, however, appealing to traders to adhere to guidelines issued by the ministry lest they risk the market being closed,” he said.

 

At least 3,000 livestock are traded on a good market day raking in over Sh30 million.

“This is one business are ready to jealously protect at all costs. Every Wednesday, I and several like-minded elders visit the market to ensure the ministry-issued guidelines are adhered to,” he added.

Amey said hundreds of people directly or indirectly depend on the market as the main source of livelihood adding that “closing the market could have a devastating effect on the economy of Garissa at large”.

Early this month, Governor Korane called on residents of Dadaab to limit movement in and out of the refugee camps hosting over 300,000 refugees from Somalia.

Edited by R.Wamochie