• Kemri Director Yeri Kombe said the institute was in dire need of Sh790 million to restock and resume normal operations and scale-up testing.
• To address the problem of truck drivers and cross border transactions, the ministry is expected to receive a mobile laboratory from EAC.
The Health Ministry has refuted claims that there is a scarcity of reagents for carrying out Covid-19 tests at the Kenya Medical Research Institute.
Kemri, the crucial agency at the centre of screening, testing and research for a vaccine says essential supplies have been depleted.
In his submission to the Senate ad hoc committee on Covid-19 earlier, Kemri director Yeri Kombe said the institution is out of equipment, supplies, reagents and materials used in screening and testing Covid-19 patients.
This comes even as the number of positive cases in the country continued to rise.
As of Wednesday, the positive cases in the country were at 737 after 22 more cases were confirmed by the ministry in a day.
The 22 were from 1,516 samples tested in a day. The total number of tests conducted since the first case is now 35,432.
Four more patients, however, succumbed to the virus, raising the total number of fatalities in the country to 40.
As a result, Kombe said the institute was in dire need of Sh790 million to restock and resume normal operations and scale-up testing.
“The institute has exhausted most of the reagents and materials being utilised in screening and testing for the virus,” Kombe said.
Kombe had told the committee that Kemri needs Sh540 million to restock the reagents and materials used in screening and testing for the virus and supporting ongoing research for a vaccine.
But speaking during the daily briefing on Wednesday, Health CAS Rashid Aman said the testing capacity will not be affected due to availability of several testing centres across the country.
“Our testing programme encompasses several testing centres. The National Influenza Centre within the National Public Health Laboratory is one of those, Kemri laboratory is another one,” Aman said.
Our testing capacity is not going to be a constraint because of lack of resources and reagents but rather it will be a matter of we being unable to access the reagents.Health CAS Rashid Aman
“We have several other testing facilities within our national referral hospitals, within our research institutions that are spread across the country and within the laboratories of our collaborators who are working with us across the country.”
For most of these laboratories for the Covid-19 response, the government has developed a resource plan for not only testing but for all the requirements that we need for the Covid-19 response.
Aman noted that the ministry has a plan that has quantified and ear mapped resources expected to go to various activities that include testing.
He announced that the country received a consignment of 8,000 tests on Tuesday for one of the machines used in the testing with another batch of 18,000 tests received yesterday.
More consignments are expected to be received into the country by the end of this month and another during the month of July.
To address the problem of truck drivers and cross border transactions, the ministry is expected to receive a mobile laboratory courtesy of the East African Community a Programme within the EAC that aims at improving disease surveillance within the member states.
Through the programme, Kenya shall be receiving two mobile laboratories for Kenya which are fully equipped to do molecular testing that and carry out for Covid-19.
“Hopefully within the next week we shall have one of these labs stationed and operational in Namanga so that we can address the testing of truck drivers at that border point,” the CAS said.
“This facility will be key in the surveillance and monitoring of the virus in this region. This is an area that we have now classified as a high risk based on Covid-19 positive cases detected at border crossing points."
Twenty-two more people were discharged from hospital, bringing the total number of patients who have successfully undergone treatment and recovered at 281.
In terms of age, the new cases are aged between 20 years and 81 years, comprising of 17 men and five women.
Out of the total confirmed cases, 10 are from Nairobi while eight are from Mombasa. Kajiado and Bomet recorded three and one cases respectively.
Twenty counties have so far reported a case.
The ministry has however accused some youth within the National Hygiene programme of undermining its objectives by forcefully demanding money from individuals within the neighbourhoods they are cleaning.
I am equally concerned about the youth who are harassing and robbing commuters under the pretext that such commuters are not wearing masks or are not observing social distancing.
He warned that should the behaviour continue, the country runs the risk of lowering the level of compliance, which has the potential to negate all the gains so far made.