RED ALERT

Kisumu puts 100 in isolation, traces contacts over Indian variant

Health executive urges residents to wear masks at all times and avoid gatherings.

In Summary

• On Thursday, Health executive Boaz Otieno said in a statement that three more people had tested positive for the Indian variant, raising the number to eight. 

• Otieno said disease surveillance teams had begun tracing the contacts of the eight who were working at a fertiliser plant in Kibos and those in isolation. 

Acting Health director general Patrick Amoth
Acting Health director general Patrick Amoth
Image: MAGDALINE SAYA

The Kisumu county administration has isolated 100 people who came into contact with five patients who tested positive for the Indian Covid-19 variant. 

Health executive Boaz Otieno on Thursday said in a statement that three more people had tested positive for the Indian variant, raising the number to eight. 

Otieno said disease surveillance teams had begun tracing the contacts of the eight who were working at a fertiliser plant in Kibos and those in isolation. 

“The county government of Kisumu has stepped up surveillance after the Indian variant of Covid-19 was detected in the county,” the statement reads.

Acting director general of Health Patrick Amoth said on Wednesday that the five cases were identified on Thursday last week on arrival in the country before the ban on flights from India was imposed.

The cases were picked up following gene sequencing carried out on samples taken to the national government testing laboratories. 

Otieno said the situation is under control but urged Kisumu residents to be vigilant and adhere to Covid-19 protocols.

"Our disease surveillance teams are alert and contact tracing is going on. Our people must avoid gatherings and wear masks at all times," Otieno said. 

On Wednesday, Dr Amoth said the results of the genome sequencing for more samples at Kemri Walter Reed centre in Kisumu were expected in a week.

"This variant has been picked in Kenya and because of connectivity, it was just a matter of time. You cannot put barriers to prevent a virus from accessing your territory," Amoth said.

"We picked this from a sample of Indian travellers who are doing some work in the western part of Kisumu. We have gone ahead together with the Kisumu county health team to do contact tracing."

Dr Amoth said the five were staying in a camp, making it easier to do tracing.

The B.1.617 variant has been blamed for India’s second wave of infection that has pushed the Asian country’s cases to more than 20 million.

Kisumu residents on Thursday expressed concern and shock at the news that the variant had been discovered in the county.  

"Seeing what is happening in India, we have everything to worry about. This is scary news to everyone," Migosi estate resident Josephine Akech said. 

George Okoth, who resides in Kibos, called on the county government to fumigate the area.

"We are asking the Health department to carry out fumigation on this estate. We are not safe at all," he said.

Grace Akeyo accused the fertiliser firm of negligence in controlling the movement of its foreign employees.

"Why did they allow the people to come into the area at a time when India was experiencing a surge in Covid-19 cases? I feel they were reckless and not mindful of the welfare of the other people who now are at risk of getting the strain," she said.

The World Health Organization has classified the new strain as a variant of interest, meaning concerted efforts must be taken to put it under control. 

The variant has also been detected in Uganda, from a national who had returned from a visit to India.

The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has warned India’s intense outbreak was a reminder that Africa must stay vigilant.

“The variant will definitely go anywhere because you cannot put a wall and stop the virus from moving and what viruses do is to mutate so they change; sometimes they mutate and change and become weak, sometimes that change makes them stronger,” the CDC advisory said. 

Last week, the government imposed a ban on flights between India and Kenya for 14 days to prevent the spread of the Indian variant.

 

(edited by o. owino)