Close

COVID-19

Why home-based isolation is critical

Hospitals are still overly congested.

In Summary
  • Approximately 80 per cent of the infected persons admitted in hospitals are asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic.
  • Home-based protocols mean that these people can be managed at home provided proper laid down procedures are followed

The number of Covid-19 positive cases in Kenya is increasing exponentially.

In less than a month, the country has recorded more than 3,000 positive cases, zooming past the 4,000 mark and is fast approaching 5,000 cases. As at Tuesday, the number of positive cases stood at 4,952.

After more than two months since the first positive case was reported in Kenya (March 13) we hit the 1,000 mark on May 20. Lately however, we have seen a rapid increase in these numbers, hitting the predicted 200 coronavirus positive cases more than a month before August.

At the moment, the government has 113 isolation centres spread across the country with a bed capacity of approximately 3,800, earmarked to deal with Covid-19 cases. According to government records, the coronavirus is now in 40 counties with Nairobi leading in the number of cases followed by Mombasa and Busia at 2,424, 1,302 and 361, respectively, as of Tuesday.

It is, however, important to note that some counties have no isolation centres, meaning that patients reported to have contracted the virus in the said counties, will have to be transferred to facilities in the areas that are already prepared.

Further, some health facilities like the Kenyatta National Hospital isolation unit in Mbagathi and Kenyatta University Teaching Referral and Research Hospital are already overstretched and cannot cope with the ever-increasing number of Covid-19 positive patients.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has directed each county to have at least 300 isolation beds to address the increasing demand. The Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Council, which serves as the National Coordination Centre for Isolation and Quarantine Facilities, headed by Dr Eva Njenga, is working closely with the Council of Governors and respective county governments to ensure that the above directive is realised.

With the current bed capacity of 3,800 for Covid-19 patients, a total number of 4,797 cases, and a major surge expected in a few weeks, the importance of home-based isolation cannot be overemphasised.

However, this is still not enough. Hospitals are still overly congested and it has become apparent that it is no longer tenable to isolate all patients with the coronavirus in hospital-based treatment facilities.

Hence the Home-Based Isolation and Care Guidelines for Patients with Covid-19 booklet was launched. The guidelines, developed by the Ministry of Health in conjunction with the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Council, the Kenya Health Professionals Oversight Authority, the World Health Organization and other stakeholders in the health sector, provides a solution in the management of the increasing numbers and the anticipated surge in the Covid-19 cases.

Since approximately 80 per cent of the infected persons admitted in hospitals are asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic, the government thought it best to initiate a sustainable way of handling the pandemic.

The home-based protocols mean that these people can be managed at home provided proper laid down procedures are followed, paving way for the release of a majority of patients being held in isolation facilities, thereby decongesting health facilities.

The implementation of these guidelines is being done under the supervision of medical and public health officials and community health volunteers. And for informal settlements where households share small spaces, the government will identify institutions within the community that meet the recommendations for providing such care.

With the current bed capacity of 3,800 for Covid-19 patients, more than 4,952 cases, and a major surge expected in a few weeks, the importance of home-based isolation cannot be overemphasised.