Indian Covid-19 variant: Kisumu on high alert after one succumbs

There is heightened surveillance in Kisumu County where health officials have launched rapid tests following the detection of Indian Covid-9 variant.

The county Health executive Boaz Nyunya clarified that the number of patients with the Indian variant were five and not eight as earlier reported and “the drop is as a result of sequencing genes which takes long.”

Nyunya said 58 other people were detected with Covid-19 at Kibos Sugar Company where the five with Indian variant were stationed after traveling from India for a project at the factory.

The cases, Nyunya said, brings to 3181 the number of Covid-19 cases recorded in the county after 32,300 tests.

“Unfortunately, we have lost 94 people,” Nyunya said, adding that the lakeside county had enhanced surveillance, screening and contact tracing and “we are doing rapid tests of all contacts of those who tested positive of the variant traced to India” with about 23,000 people vaccinated against Covid-19.

Kisumu County Health Executive Prof Boaz Otieno after taking the oath of office. [Kepher Otieno, Standard]

Residents around the sugar factory had expressed fears of the spread of the Indian variant but Nyunya reassured residents that measures had been put in place to contain the virus whether the variants were from South African, UK, Brazilian or India.

Sources at the factory intimated that more than 100 Indian nationals have been isolated as more tests carried out to confirm if they have the strain and that for now “everything was under control and there was no point for alarm,” said Kibos MD, Sukwinder Raju adding “we are safe and everything is okay.”

Nyunya said of 150 samples tested three weeks ago at Kibos Sugar Factory,100 tested positive with most having recently returned from India. One of those tested succumbed to Covid-19 but “we  cannot confirm if the death recorded was as a result of the Indian variant.”

Acting Health Director-General Dr Patrick Amoth said the five victims with Indian variant arrived in Kenya to beat the travel restrictions imposed on flights from India. Amoth added that 18 other passengers from India who landed at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport also tested positive after antigen tests and will undergo a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to check on the Indian variant.

Indian is currently witnessing the worst Covid-19 crisis in the world as most hospitals reporting an overflow of patients in a critical state. Crematoriums in India are overwhelmed, with bodies being cremated along the streets.

Health officials in the country and experts have linked a surge in infections to new variants of Coronavirus.

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