Revealed: Turkana’s first Covid-19 case sneaked into Eastleigh and back

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Authorities in Turkana County yesterday unravelled how a 32-year-old Somali national, residing in Kenya as a registered refugee at Kakuma Camp, exposed himself and others to Covid-19 by travelling to Nairobi’s Eastleigh estate and back despite a cessation of movement order.

Deputy Governor Peter Lotethiro said that the man’s mission was to evacuate his 31-year-old sister and her baby from Eastleigh.

The refugee, who is Turkana County’s first Covid-19 case, travelled from Nairobi to Kakuma on May 10 using a hired a taxi.

He managed to sneak his sister out of Eastleigh and travelled to Eldoret via Mai Mahiu route. They eventually made it to Lodwar via Kainuk entry point by the night of May 12.


Despite the curfew, they travelled from Lodwar to Kakuma on the same night but were intercepted at a roadblock in Lokore near the refugee camp.

“When they were questioned by security officers about where they were coming from, they lied that they had taken the baby to hospital in Lodwar and Kitale and were therefore returning home,” the Deputy Governor, who is also the County Emergency Response Committee chairman, said.

Security officers, however, were suspicious of the story and immediately alerted the public health team. They were then escorted to a quarantine facility at Kakuma Refugee Camp.

“When public health officers cross-checked records at Lodwar County and Referral Hospital to see if they had admitted the baby, it was confirmed to be untrue. They later revealed that they had sneaked in from Eastleigh,” Mr Lotethiro said.

Samples taken from the three and 20 others who had come in contact with them were sent to Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret. Only the sample from the man came back positive.

He was asymptomatic, meaning he didn’t exhibit any symptoms associated with the coronavirus disease.

It’s still not clear at what point he may have contracted the virus.

County health teams in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Rescue Committee have already isolated the patient.

Health teams have also stepped up identification of more primary and secondary contacts for quarantine and testing.


County Health Chief Officer Dr Roberts Abok warned that dishonesty in volunteering travel history from counties that have confirmed Covid-19 cases was undermining containment of the disease.

He urged residents to adhere to all directives issued by the Ministry of Health.

“We have stepped up surveillance and screening at the critical Kainuk entry point to ensure all truck drivers have valid Covid-19 test certificates before being allowed to enter the county,” he said.

County Health Executive Jane Ajele called on the national government to establish mobile testing sites in Turkana especially at Kainuk entry point, Kalobeyei and Lodwar to speed up testing of samples.

“We have four Genexpert machines that can be improved so that our certified laboratory in Lodwar can be used to test samples for timely results,” she said.

UNHCR’s Senior Operations Manager at the Kakuma Refugee Camp Kahin Ismail recently reassured the county of support.

Mr Ismail said that there are 196,000 refugees at Kakuma and that UNHCR was teaming up with other partners in the health sector to set up three isolation wards.

The total number of cases reported in Kenya currently stands at 1,286 with Turkana becoming the latest county to confirm a virus case.

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