Covid-19 testing in Mandera schools suspended as officials seek consensus

Mandera Governor Ali Roba poses for a picture with county officials and medics during the launch of the county's Covid-19 Molecular Laboratory at the Mandera County Referral Hospital on October 19, 2020.

Photo credit: Courtesy

What you need to know:

  • Health executive Mohamud Adan Mohamed said learners and their teachers will only be tested after everyone understands the importance of the exercise.
  • Education director Adan Roble noted that the testing of learners remains the role of the Ministry of Health.

National examination candidates and Grade Four learners in Mandera County will wait longer to be tested for Covid-19 as the county engages parents on the importance of the exercise.

This is according to county Health executive Mohamud Adan Mohamed, who confirmed one case of the coronavirus disease at Duse Primary School in Mandera East.

“We have not reached a decision on whether to test the entire school or all schools because it has to be reached by the county, the national government and parents,” he said.

According to Mr Mohamed, learners and their teachers will only be tested after everyone understands the importance of the exercise.

“We don’t want to make it look like the county is forcing anyone to take the test. We are developing a protocol that will see all learners undergo testing,” he said.

He did not say when testing in schools will begin.

Ministry's role

Meanwhile, a senior Mandera officer of the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) died of the disease on Sunday.

“The officer came to the office last week but developed breathing difficulties. Other staff took him to a local private facility, where he died. Tests confirmed he had Covid-19,” one of the staffers said.

Education director Adan Roble noted that the testing of learners remains the role of the Ministry of Health.

“Learners are not being tested in Mandera. It is a good idea that needs to be implemented so that we can gauge the safety of learners,” he said.

Regarding reports of the positive case at Dude, he said he was not aware of any Covid-19 infection at a school in the county.

County’s status

The Health minister, however, said the learner is being treated at home and is due for a second test.

Mr Mohamed noted that the county is experiencing a second wave of infections alongside several other areas in Kenya.

In September, a Covid-19 testing laboratory was commissioned in Mandera but two months down the line, only 400 people have been tested locally.

“Twenty-one cases have been recorded at our local laboratory, bringing the county tally to 48, including three deaths,” Mr Mohamed said.

At least six patients are at the Mandera Isolation Centre while 15 are in the home-based care programme

Mr Mohamed spoke of “very serious engagements” by the county, including establishing Covid-19 compliance rules.

He said Mandera has maintained robust intervention measures since April, when it confirmed its first case of the disease.

Business as usual

A spot check by the Nation found business as usual in the county, with many people not wearing masks or keeping physical distance.

Residents have continued to gather at miraa dens and other public spaces without adherence to these and other protocols.

“Nobody believes there is Covid-19 in Mandera. The few known deaths are seen as normal to many people,” said resident Adan Hassan.

On Monday, 16 people were charged at the Mandera Law Courts with not wearing masks.

They were each fined Sh1,000 and given the alternative of spending a month in prison.

motsialo@ke.nationmedia.com

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