North Rift governors alarmed by false Covid-19 test results

More than 10 residents who were wrongly declared positive by private health facilities threaten to sue.

In Summary

• When the same samples were retested at MTRH and Kemri, they gave negative results.

• Victim says he was taken into isolation and his family quarantined, causing them untold anguish; they still suffer stigma. 

A sample is collected for a Covid-19 test from a Nandi resident on July 2, 2020.
SWABBING: A sample is collected for a Covid-19 test from a Nandi resident on July 2, 2020.

Governors in the North Rift region have expressed concern over conflicting results from Covid-19 tests.

This is after some cases confirmed by private health facilities turned out negative after retesting at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital and the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri).

The county chiefs have, therefore, urged the Ministry of Health to review testing protocols used by private facilities.

"Several tests conducted in private facilities and confirmed as Covid-19-positive were retested at MTRH and Kemri and found to be negative,” said a statement by eight governors under the North Rift Economic Bloc (Noreb).

They held a virtual Noreb meeting hosted by MTRH. The meeting was chaired by Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago, who is Noreb chairman.

MTRH chief executive Wilson Aruasa and county chiefs Alex Tolgos (Elgeyo Marakwet), Patrick Khaemba (Trans Nzoia), Stephen Sang (Nandi), Josphat Nanok (Turkana) and John Lonyangapuo of West Pokot attended.

More than 10 residents who were tested at private facilities in the region have threatened to go to court after they were declared Covid-19-positive, only to be told they were negative following subsequent tests on the same blood samples at MTRH and Kemri.

“I was declared positive, taken into isolation and my family quarantined, causing us untold anguish. We continue to suffer stigma as a result of the fake Covid-19 results from the private facility where I had gone for medication," one of the victims said.

MTRH and the Trans Nzoia County Referral Hospital are the two public facilities approved by the government to carry out Covid-19 testing in the region where Lancet Laboratories is among the private facilities also approved for the same purpose.

The governors said because of limited testing materials, priority would be given to patients, those due for surgery, frontline health workers and hoteliers.

They also noted challenges in transporting samples from Turkana because of the long distance to MTRH. They want the government to equip and operationalise the Kakuma Influenza testing centre to handle Covid-19.

The governors said they expected a surge in Covid-19 cases following the lifting on the ban on movement into and out of hotspots such as Nairobi. 

“The reopening of the economy has also opened a critical phase in the mitigation, response and management of the Covid-19 pandemic and we are now called upon to individually enhance adherence to control measures and protocols,” Mandago said.

They resolved to enhance public education on Covid-19 in partnership with public health officers, who play a critical role in sensitising the masses on the virus and prevention and control measures.

Edited by F'Orieny