15 medics test positive for coronavirus at Kakamega Hospital

People at the gate of Kakamega General Hospital. Officials blame the rising number of coronavirus cases in the region to residents ignoring health protocols.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

At least five doctors and 10 nurses at the Kakamega County General Hospital have tested positive for the coronavirus in the last one week as health workers in the region grapple with a surge in infections.

A senior Kakamega County official has been admitted at the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for the last four days after he developed breathing problems and tests later confirmed he had contracted Covid-19.

The county government has asked its employees in the finance and other departments to report to work in shifts to avoid congestion in offices to contain the spread of infections.

Doctors and nurses at the hospital and several other health facilities in the county said they were being exposed to the infections due to lack of PPEs and masks while on duty.

“The situation at the hospital is worrying since several of our colleagues have been infected while on duty and are currently admitted in hospital while others have been admitted in isolation facilities which are full,” said a doctor.

The county executive for Health Services declined to comment on the situation at the hospital when contacted by the Nation.

Grim picture

Interviews with doctors and nurses at the hospital and other health facilities paint a worrying picture.

A number of infections have been reported at the Shikusa Borstal facility and other prison facilities in the county.

The isolation facility for Covid-19 in Mumias is reported to have admitted more than 70 patients, forcing the county government to admit new patients to the facility in Likuyani Sub-County.

Last week, Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, who is the chair of the Council of Governors, asked the Ministry of Health to come up with tougher measures to contain the current upsurge in Covid-19 infections in the regions.

He said the measures should target public gatherings in rallies, funerals and a review of the government decision to reopen bars.

Governor Oparanya said the current trend of infections in the region was worrying and blamed politicians who are organising campaign rallies for fuelling the spread of the disease.

He said that after President Uhuru Kenyatta announced the reopening of bars, the Ministry of Health protocols on social distancing and wearing of masks were being flouted by those patronising the social places.

“The government needs to come up with serious measures to ensure that politicians who are now having political meetings are checked because they have really contributed to this spread,” said Mr Oparanya.

“In Kakamega, we have decided that bodies should be buried within 48 hours to avoid funeral gatherings which are contributing to the spread of infections in communities,” said Mr Oparanya.

He said half of the patients admitted in Mumias were inmates and warders from the Kakamega prison facilities. Prisons, according to Mr Oparanya, have been identified as the weakest link in the fight to contain infections.

“I had a meeting with Kakamega County Commissioner today and recommended that perhaps the best thing for us is to close the prison facilities to stop the spread of the infections. Counties have spent the allocations for July/August which were released by the National Treasury to deal with emergencies and equip hospitals.

“If the current surge in infections continues, it will be difficult to contain the situation if the Ministry of Health does not come up with tough regulations to deal with the situation,” said Mr Oparanya.

Stretch facilities

Governor Oparanya told the Nation that the current wave of Covid-19 infections in the counties would overstretch facilities in isolation centres.

Counties are grappling with a shortage of  personal protective equipment (PPEs) for health workers in the regions.

Governor Oparanya said that despite the level of preparedness by counties, the cost of the PPEs will derail plans by counties with new Covid-19 infections.

Mr Oparanya asked the residents to follow the guidelines by the Ministry of Health on Covid-19 and ensure they wear masks and avoid shaking hands and practise social distancing.

Kakamega County Head of Preventive and Promotive Health Services William Olaka wrote to all county employees, warning that they would face prosecution should they fail to observe the medical protocols.

“To check the spread of Covid-19 among county employees and ensure optimal operation of county departments, it is imperative that any county employee who gets in contact with a Covid-19 positive case, whether at work or otherwise, should adhere to Covid-19 protocols and immediately proceed to self-quarantine,” said Mr Olaka in the circular to all county staff.

The memo further warns that whoever fails to comply with the advice will be in contravention of the Public Health Act Cap 242 (Prevention, Control, and Suppression of Covid-19 regulations) and will be liable for prosecution.

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