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CONTAINMENT MEASURES

Doctors outline conditions for school reopening

244 more people test positive on Sunday after 3,707 tests.

In Summary

• Kenya Medical Association said the government should thus justify reopening these institutions with enough evidence that the epidemiological pattern of the pandemic is well known.

• The country has so far reported 38,115 positive cases of the coronavirus.

The diary of a medical student: Students dread school reopening
The diary of a medical student: Students dread school reopening

Medical practitioners across the country now want the government to put clear plans to contain the Covid-19 outbreak in schools.

Through the Kenya Medical Association, the doctors have said although the government has hinted a possible reopening of learning institutions, it has remained unclear on measures being put in place to deal with any outbreaks.

The associations' president Dr Were Onyino on Sunday said the reason educational institutions were closed was to reduce physical interaction and thus lower the risk of transmission of community Covid-19 in the country.

 
 
 

He said the government should thus justify reopening these institutions with enough evidence that the epidemiological pattern of the pandemic is well known.

"The government must ensure the risk of community transmission is eliminated or significantly reduced," Onyino said.

He said the government must also prove that the country is prepared to handle any potential surge in the transmission that might result from reopening, and that measures have been taken to ensure that the school environment is safe and healthy.

This comes as the country has reported 38,115 positive cases of the coronavirus.

This is after 244 more people tested positive in at least 24 hours, out of 3,707 tests.

The Health Ministry said cumulative tests stand at 540,308 since the first case was reported in March.

Some 40 people recovered in the same period bringing the total number of recoveries to 24,621.

 

Unfortunately, 691 people have so far succumbed to the disease.

The government is expected on Tuesday to announce whether it will reopen schools before January or not.

Education CS George Magoha said for any adjustment in the school calendar the government would depend on professional advice and assessment by health experts.

He said the review could see colleges, universities and candidates for KCSE and KCPE exams allowed to resume phased learning from next month.

As a result, the Teacher Service Commission directed all teachers to report back to their schools by tomorrow Monday.

So far County governments were directed to ensure that all learning institutions are vacated before teachers report back.

The notice by Education PS Belio Kipsang indicated that the Covid-19 curve has been flattening and as a result, there is consensus among education stakeholders that schools will reopen earlier than anticipated.

"Arising from the above, and aware that the public schools were used as both quarantine and isolation facilities, we are requesting that these schools are vacated and fumigated by September 28, to enable the heads of schools to prepare them for eventual reopening," Kipsang said.

But Onyino said the association had recommended the designation of Covid-19 isolation and treatment facilities to cover all counties.

He said an attempt was made to recruit additional human resources for health to address the shortfall and prepare for the possibility of a surge in transmission when movement restrictions are lifted.

"Human resources for health management has proved to be the most difficult aspect of the pandemic. The government must establish a centralised mechanism for managing human resources for health in order to ensure that in future decisions such as those we propose in the short term can be made by a competent authority that has the necessary information to do so," he said.

Onyino said that would be achieved through the establishment of a Health Service Commission.

"KMA in association with other healthcare associations are facilitating this training for health workers on management of this pandemic," he said.

He said though regulations that allow for home-based quarantine and isolation have been put in place, there is still a challenge in securing the supply chain to ensure adequate Personal Protective Equipment and other supplies for health facilities.

"Educational institutions will need to ensure that they have access to health services, including where possible, health workers designated to take care of the learners should they fall ill," Onyino said.

He said that ties in with the need to ensure that there are enough health workers in the learning institutions to facilitate the assessment of the school population.

"The association hopes that learning institutions will ensure that they have access to sanitary facilities and have regulations in place to ensure health risks to learners are minimized. Consideration must be put in place for the care for students and teachers with co-morbidities," he said.

He said measures must be made for mental health and wellness with students and teachers going into a new environment.

"As we plunge into an uncertain future in which we have to live with not only Covid-19 but also past, current and future health challenges, KMA urges the government to remain focused on providing Universal Health Coverage to all Kenyans via ‘Build Back Better’ mantra of WHO where the health systems must be left better after Covid-19 by positive investment in all pillars of healthcare and especially the health workforce," he said.