CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

1,000 medics to be hired as cases reach 42

Ministry will also increase the number of makeshift ICU beds by about 1,000.

In Summary
  • Nairobi continues to lead with 31 cases, Kilifi six, Mombasa three, Kwale one and one in Kajiado.
  • Boarding schools would be converted into quarantine centres and makeshift hospitals if infections rise exponentially.
Health CS Mutahi Kagwe during press briefing at Harambee House, Nairobi, on March 29, 2020.
Health CS Mutahi Kagwe during press briefing at Harambee House, Nairobi, on March 29, 2020.
Image: DOUGLAS OKIDDY
This is not a forced quarantine but a mandatory exercise as advised by the government. You are not being quarantined because you have committed a crime but to keep you safe. All you need to do is cooperate with the health and security officials
Health CS Mutahi Kagwe

At least 1,000 medics will be hired in the next week to handle the rising number of coronavirus infection.

The government announced on Sunday that the number of confirmed cases had risen to 42.

The new medics include nurses, clinical officers, lab technologists and doctors, among others.

 

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said they will also increase the number of makeshift Intensive Care Unit beds by about 1,000.

Currently, Kenya has about 400 ICU beds.

Kagwe said the World Bank has also donated 250 ventilators, and the government was trying to buy some more from abroad, but was facing a shortage.

The new cases are one Kenyan, an American, a Cameroonian and a Burkinabe, Kagwe said.

“Sixty-nine samples have been tested in Kenya and out of those four people have tested positive,” he told journalists in Nairobi.

Three of the new cases are from Nairobi and one from Mombasa.

“Nairobi continues to lead with 31 cases, Kilifi six, Mombasa three, Kwale one and one in Kajiado,” he said.

 

In total, 2,050 people are being held in different quarantine facilities either because they travelled to Kenya recently or they came into contact with suspected or confirmed cases.

He said they are following 1,426 close contacts.

Kagwe said 215 people have been discharged after 14 days of quarantine.

He said three infected people had been allowed to recuperate at home under close watch of their doctors.

“Some people can be quarantined in their homes if they show capacity. If a doctor says they will closely monitor their patient at home we can allow [it],” he said.

Industrialisation CS Betty Maina said some industries will begin to supply the government with personal protective equipment, masks and gloves as there is a biting shortage internationally.

“Starting next week we can manufacture our own PPEs. Soon we won’t need to import masks,” she said.

The protection against the disease is an individual responsibility. What we’re asking the community is let’s think ahead together. If the UK’s National Health Service has been overrun by the demands and US health facilities have also been overrun, isn’t it realistic that it could also happen here?
Health CS Mutahi Kagwe

Kagwe criticised Dagoretti South MP John Kiarie for questioning the government’s preparedness to handle the crisis.

Kiarie quoted a Ministry of Health model that shows the cases could rise to 10,000 by end of April, and questioned how prepared the government was to deal with that.

“Kenya national government must set up massive isolation centres around the country; over 4,000-bed isolation centres in Kasarani, Nyayo and City Stadiums in Nairobi. Over 3,000-bed isolation centres in Mombasa and similar centres countrywide,” Kiarie said.

He added that the country should kick-start production of sufficient masks.

The MP urged the government to be open and tell Kenyans the real number of positive cases so they can take the situation seriously.

“Kenya government must forthwith communicate the gravity of the real situation without sugar-coating anymore. Let Kenyans know how bad things are about to get. They will be better equipped to make personal decisions and put up with government decrees, measures and restrictions,” Kiarie said.

In response, Kagwe accused Kiarie, whom he did not name directly, of trying to gain political mileage from the coronavirus crisis.

“It is disheartening for leaders to spread false information trying to gain political mileage from a disease. It is as immoral as you can imagine and is the worst of what we can see. It’s wrong and symbolises everything wrong with our society,” he said.

Kagwe announced more boarding schools would be converted into quarantine centres and makeshift hospitals if the infections rise exponentially.

“The protection against the disease is an individual responsibility. What we’re asking the community is let’s think ahead together. If the UK’s National Health Service has been overrun by the demands and US health facilities have also been overrun, isn’t it realistic that it could also happen here?” he said.

“We need to be looking at the boarding schools that we can begin to identify as potential areas we can keep the sick if the situation demands it. There will be no need to blame the government at that time because it will be late.”

Kiarie had also challenged the parliamentary Health committee to show leadership on the legislative response to the pandemic, adding that pay cuts will be of little help.

“A Kenya Covid-19 Bill is long overdue. Kenya Parliament must step up to the plate. Sorry, populist pay cut stories won’t help here,” Kiarie said.

The MP said the government failed in taking measures to secure borders before the pandemic hit the country.

“We’ve missed critical milestones and that is why we are here. This is an imported disease. If we just kept our borders closed we would not be in this mess,” MP said.

Kagwe said his son and niece are under quarantine.

“This is not a forced quarantine but a mandatory exercise as advised by the government. You are not being quarantined because you have committed a crime but to keep you safe. All you need to do is cooperate with the health and security officials,” he said.

“I have a son and a niece who is in quarantine and there is no offence in taking preventive measures.” Kagwe said he tested for Covid-19 and it turned negative.

All contacts of patients who have tested positive for Covid-19 will be put on mandatory quarantine.

Kagwe said they will be picked up and taken to quarantine centres.

He urged them to cooperate.

On Saturday, several medical staff at the Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi were quarantined because they interacted with the 66-year-old man who died of Covid-19.

The Star learnt the patient initially did not disclose to medics that he had travelled outside Kenya.

He presented himself to the hospital with mild fever and was prescribed medication to take at home.

“We do confirm that a number of our healthcare workers were exposed to a Covid-19 case by virtue of non-disclosure by the patient on their travel history,” Dr Majid Twahir, an associate dean and the chief of staff at the hospital, told the Star.

The patient, who passed away on Thursday afternoon, returned to the hospital after three days when his condition worsened.

This time, he detailed his travel to southern Africa and was immediately admitted and secluded in a special area.

Tests for coronavirus returned positive results.

Dr Twahir said the staff who interacted with him in the first visit will be quarantined 14 days as a precaution.

He said their exposure was classified into high or low-risk and the majority of them had low-risk exposure.