Kenya has recorded nearly 400 more cases of Covid-19 in the first week of October compared to the same period in September, raising fears of a second wave of the virus.
As a result, the positivity rate of the disease went up by 1.6 per cent in the same period, shooting to 6.1 per cent in October from 4.5 per cent in September.
Political and social gatherings have been blamed even as the ministry of Health has been left only issuing blunt warnings.
Since reopening the economy, Kenya has been unable to sustain a positivity rate of five per cent and below as required by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to declare the pandemic under control.
Instead, the country has seen fluctuations of up to 10.8 per cent positivity rate –like it was recorded on Tuesday when 137 persons tested positive from 1,258 samples.
A breakdown of the figures by The Saturday Standard shows 390 more people tested positive for the virus between October 1 and 9.
In this period in October, some 1,649 people tested positive for the virus compared to 1,259 in September. Also within this period, 10 more people have been reported dead raising fatalities to 751.
In September, there were 30 deaths between September 1 and 9 compared to 40 between October 1 and 9.
Nakuru is one of the counties that has witnessed a surge in numbers with 75 cases reported on October 2.
The increase in cases comes with a drop in samples tested, which suggests the country is either not testing enough to get the correct prevalence or might be gearing towards a possible second wave.
The reduced samples tested have come with a higher positivity rate. In the first nine days of September, a total of 27,576 were tested compared to October’s 26,766.
These are 810 less samples.
The Ministry of Health has singled out prisons and counties in the rural parts of the country as the next areas where the virus is spreading rapidly.
As of Thursday, a total of 215 prisoners in Nairobi GK main prison had been placed on quarantine with Nairobi Remand prison being on lockdown for 30 days since Tuesday.
“These are measures that could be extended to other prisons and institutions should the need become apparent,” said Health Chief Administrative Secretary Dr Rashid Aman.
Aman noted that social and political gatherings are the main avenues the virus is spreading faster.
“These two are the fertile grounds of spreading the virus, and if we can avoid them, we shall have dealt a major blow to the spread of the disease,” he said.
The same concern has been raised in the situational report by the Ministry of Health dated October 7, this year.
“Laxity on observing public Health guidelines on Covid-19 particularly during political events, in public transport (overloading), and markets have been observed across the country,” reads the report.
On Wednesday, the ministry reported the highest number of cases since September after 321 persons tested positive from 4,342 samples. This is a positivity rate of 7.3 per cent.
On Thursday, the highest samples since September was tested 5,034 and 271 tested positive which is a positivity rate of 5.3 per cent.
CAS Aman has made it clear that if the country ends up with a second wave, Kenyans will have themselves to blame since they are not adhering to the safety measures.
“We are between a safe country and a second wave of the virus. The choice is ours,” said Aman.
At the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Turkana County, the number of cases are also rising.
By Thursday, the number of refugees who have contracted the disease at the camp, with a population of 200,000, had exceeded 200, with Turkana County government reporting yesterday that hundreds of refugees could be infected.
The county’s lack of a Covid-19 testing centre is impeding efforts to tame surging numbers of positive cases at Kakuma Refugee Camp.
Deputy Governor Peter Lotethiro said the county relies on Kisumu’s Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) in Eldoret and Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Nairobi for testing, resulting in delays in management of patients at quarantine and isolation facilities.
“We need our own testing centre so that many people are tested for us to determine the extent to which the disease has spread at the refugee camp before it explodes to other parts of the county,” Mr Lotethiro said.
He called for concerted efforts by the State, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the devolved unit to establish a testing centre at Kakuma.
UNHCR Kenya Spokesperson Eujin Byun confirmed that the UN refugee agency collects 200 samples every week and sends them for testing.
“To fully contain the spread of the disease, we target to test all the 200,000 refugees but that goal is slowed down by lack of testing capacity which is not just a countrywide problem but also a global challenge. Kakuma should be a Covid-19 testing centre,” Ms Byun said.
Elsewhere, at least nine healthcare workers at the Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital (PGH) in Nakuru, have contracted Covid-19.
The officer in-charge of the facility Dr Joseph Mburu said the employees were manning various departments including maternity, theatre, Mother and Child Health and eye clinic.
The affected medics include doctors, nurses, laboratory technicians and clinicians and are all being managed under home-based care.
“All the health employees are stable, and are closely being monitored to guarantee their speedy recovery,” said Mburu.
In August, PGH private wing (Annex) was set aside to manage health care workers infected with the virus while in the line of duty.
[Graham Kajilwa, Bakari Ang’ela and Mercy Kahenda]
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