What you need to know:
- Homa Bay County has recorded a spike in coronavirus infections over the past few weeks, forcing national government administrators to step up surveillance and ensure containment protocols are observed.
The Homa Bay County health department’s headquarters was closed Tuesday and services suspended for at least one week after five staff, including three senior officials, contracted Covid-19.
The offices were closed in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus among staff in a county experiencing a rise in infections.
The announcement came a day after Homa Bay recorded 46 new Covid-19 infections, coming second after Nairobi, which often leads in the number of new infections and has been the virus epicentre for months.
The county had 119 active cases by Monday evening, with at least 30 patients admitted to the High Dependency Unit (HDU) at the county teaching and referral hospital in Homa Bay Town.
It has recorded at least 752 cases and 44 deaths since the outbreak of the pandemic last year.
Concern is growing over the high number of patients being taken to the hospital as the oxygen crisis persists and admission beds run out, with local leaders expressing fears that the county government may be unable to handle the situation.
The Nation has established that infected senior county officials are battling the deadly disease in private hospitals in other counties.
Homa Bay County has recorded a spike in coronavirus infections over the past few weeks, forcing national government administrators to step up surveillance and ensure containment protocols are observed.
Relevant agencies have increased patrols to arrest people who contravene containment measures.
Homa Bay County MPs caucus chairperson, Millie Odhiambo, said she asked the Health ministry to help the county fight the virus.
“We do not have the ability to handle the rising cases because of the few health facilities we have. We have decided to put our heads together to see how we can help our electorate,” the Suba North MP said.
Similarly, Homa Bay County Assembly Majority Leader George Okello told the Nation that the House asked the Executive to set aside some funds to manage Covid-19 in the county.
He said the money should be used to set up more space for admitting patients.
“We will resume normal sittings next week with the option of extending our recess if the rate of infection continues rising. In the meantime, the assembly has asked Governor Cyprian Awiti to ensure more funds are set aside to manage the infection rate,” Mr Okello said.
County Health Administrator Ely Odhiambo said all workers at the health department headquarters were asked to get tested and work from home. The health department offices will be fumigated while they are away.
Mr Odhiambo said stable patients at the county referral hospital are being transferred to other isolation centres,, including Malela in Ndhiwa and Kandiege in Rachuonyo North, to decongest HDUs.
“We can handle all the cases for now because we have made adequate plans to decongest the hospital. We have a team on the ground handling the matter and expect that everything will be under control by the end of this week,” he said.
MCAs are expected to convene a special sitting to discuss the growing infections and recommend remedial measures.
In the meantime, the Covid-19 Emergency Response Committee, chaired by County Commissioner Moses Lilan, has instructed officials under the Nyuma Kumi initiative to collaborate with national government administrators in enforcing containment measures, including arresting those flouting protocols.
In the past, enforcement was done by police, chiefs and assistant chiefs.
Mr Lilan said sensitisation will be carried out at the grassroots level, where infections are rising.
Elders will now work with chiefs in creating awareness on the dangers of the disease. Other measures like limiting the number of people attending funerals and restricting bar operations remain.