DEADLY EXODUS

Upcounty movement worries health officials

Many fleeing from Nairobi that has been hardest hit by coronavirus

In Summary

• Fifty positive cases confirmed, numbers expected to rise

•Nairobi hardest hit, 42 cases out of nation's total of 59.

 

Public health officials from Naivasha check temperatures of passengers using the Nairobi-Nakuru highwayThey expressed concern over the high number of passengers heading upcountry from Nairobi hotspot.
TEMPERATURE CHECK: Public health officials from Naivasha check temperatures of passengers using the Nairobi-Nakuru highwayThey expressed concern over the high number of passengers heading upcountry from Nairobi hotspot.
Image: GEORGE MURAGE

Health officials are alarmed by upcountry flight, the mass movement of passengers to escape Nairobi and the coronavirus.

It could be a deadly exodus.

Nairobi is the country's hotspot, with 42 of 59 cases.

Officials said the movement to upcountry by infected people could derail the fight against the disease that already has affected six counties.

Public health officers from Nakuru county launched impromptu temperature testing exercises in Naivasha, along the Nairobi-Nakuru highway.

The aim is to ensure the virus does not spread to rural areas.

The exercise targeted PSVs; staff checked passengers' temperatures and ensured the vehicles had quality sanitiser.

“The county is not taking chances and has taken the initiative to test all passengers coming from Nairobi which is the epicentre of the disease,” Naivasha subcounty public health officer George Ndichuhe said.

“Despite warnings from the government to stop mass movement, these passengers have ignored the directive and could spread the disease," he said. 

Naivasha businessman James Karimi called for a total lockdown of counties affected by the disease.

He said that a 14-day-lockdown would work as there were fears that the high number of passengers heading upcountry could spread the disease.

“This disease is not a joke as we have seen the deaths in US and Italy and it's time the government took a decisive decision and introduced a total lockdown,” he said.

Karimi praised the testing initiative and said other counties should do the same and test all passengers entering their region.

Passengers and drivers also praised the temperature testing, saying all exit points from the affected counties should have a testing point.

Driver Peter Mwaura said traders had taken advantage of the outbreak to increase the price of sanitizer and sell fakes.

(Edited by V. Graham)