Covid-19 Kisumu

A nurse attends to Covid-19 patient recuperating at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital in Kisumu County on June 10, 2021.

| Tonny Omondi | Nation Media Group

Medics in Lake Region overstretched as Covid cases surge

Medics in the Lake region are overwhelmed by the Covid-19 situation in their counties, with some having to work extra to take care of patients.

Between June 1 and Wednesday June 16, the 14 Lake region counties recorded 2,973 new Covid-19 cases, with Kisumu leading at 860 cases, closely followed by its neighbor Siaya County with 441 cases and Busia with 309 cases.  Homa Bay had 293 cases during the period, Kericho 183, Kisii 166, Bungoma 150 and Kakamega 106 new cases.

Migori, Nyamira and Nandi counties have each recorded 87 cases so far, Bomet 83, Trans Nzoia 61 and Vihiga County 60. Isolation centres in Kisumu remain strained, including those at private hospitals, with a total of 152 patients with Covid-19 admitted in various hospitals. 794 Covid-19 patients are currently on home-based care.

No beds left

In Homa Bay County, there are no beds left in the High Dependency Unit (HDU) at the County Teaching and Referral Hospital for Covid-19 patients.

All the 32 beds at the hospital are currently occupied, amid fear that a further increase in infections may lead to deaths. The county had 68 new cases of Covid-19 on Wednesday, the highest ever recorded.

 The county Covid-19 Emergency Response Committee chaired by County Commissioner Moses Lilan and Governor Cyprian Awiti said it is worried about the positivity rate and the upward trend of infections in the past three weeks.

 The county government has begun admitting patients at Nyagiela Dispensary, one of the designated Covid-19 isolation centres. Others are Malela and Kandiege, which are running out of space.

Kisumu Covid-19

Covid-19 patients recuperate at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital in Kisumu County on June 10, 2021. 

Photo credit: Tonny Omondi| Nation Media Group

 The county has also run out of the Covid-19 vaccine and people due for the second dose were being turned away.

In Kisii County, at least 10 Covid-19 patients are on oxygen at Kisii Teaching and Referral Hospital (KTRH). County public health director Richard Onkware said the 10 patients who are on oxygen are responding well to drugs.

The county government has scaled down its operations in a move aimed at minimising the spread of the virus. On Friday, the department of Health ordered the closure of all churches in Birongo Ward in Nyaribari Chache Sub- County for 14 days following a surge in positive cases.

“It is reported that some known individuals have died due to complications arising from this pandemic,” read part of the letter.

Aga Khan Hospital, Kisumu, is over-stretched with the increasing number of patients. 

The hospital director, Dr Patrick Eshiwani, said the situation has not changed in recent weeks, as more people are getting admitted to the hospital. 

"We have 16 Covid-19 patients in an isolation centre supposed to host 12 people. That is how serious it is," said Dr Eshiwani. 

55 patients

At Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital, there are about 55 patients in the isolation unit. 

The hospital's CEO, Dr George Rae, raised concern over the small number of health workers attending to patients. 

"Of course we need more doctors and nurses to take care of the patients. Right now the few we have are overstretched," said Dr Rae.

In Nyamira, whose Governor John Nyagarama succumbed to Covid-19 complications, 68 patients are currently under active home-based care and three patients are at the county referral hospital isolation ward.  

"The current positivity rate in the last 24 hours is 24 per cent, compared to the national rate of 9 per cent," said Dr Silas Ayunga, Nyamira County Director of Health Services. 

The governor, who was Mr Nyagarama’s deputy, Mr Amos Nyaribo, recovered after staying for three weeks in the ICU last year.

In Vihiga, Health Executive Amos Kutwa said the human resource is inadequate to handle patients in the Covid-19 isolation and treatment centres as medics have to continue running other health services.

Testing facilities are also limited, causing a strain on the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri), the only one allowed to do the testing.

As of June 16, Vihiga County had 55 active cases, after 26 new infections were reported. Thirteen patients are admitted to the isolation ward at the county referral hospital, seven at Mbale Rural hospital, six at Jumuia Mission hospital at Kaimosi and 29 on home-based isolation care.

Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital

Health workers attend to a patient recuperating from Covid-19 at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital in Kisumu County on June 10, 2021. 

Photo credit: Tonny Omondi | Nation Media Group

Some 37 health care workers have been infected since Covid-19 struck, with one losing the battle.

"We have two active cases among health care workers," said Dr Kutwa.

Vihiga has 350 health care workers in 66 facilities. Medics want isolation wards and holding rooms set up in every public facility.

Dr Kutwa recommends a concerted resource mobilisation to support Covid-19 activities, recruitment of more staff as well as setting up and equipping more isolation wards as long-term measures.

Vihiga County has four isolation centres with a total bed capacity of 141. Only three of the isolation centres have been activated.

In Migori, there are four critical cases at the county referral hospital’s ICU.

Eight cases are isolated at the county referral hospital while six are at the Migori GK prison,” county health executive Kepohas Nyamita said, adding that 102 patients are on home-based care.

A health official at the county’s referral hospital told the Nation that clinicians were jittery on handling the cases at the ICUs, citing lack of skills.

“We are in a serious crisis as cases increase by day. Those handling critical cases do not have the requisite knowledge,” he said.

“The presence of four mutant variants in the county has also created panic among health workers,” said the medic who is not authorised to address the press.

However, Mr Nyamita noted that medics were being trained on how best to attend to the positive cases.

In Bomet County, 28 people were in isolation as of Wednesday evening, with seven on home-based care.

In Kericho county, 64 are admitted, with two in ICU, one in HDU as cumulative recoveries stand at 2,985 and deaths so far standing at 132.

Covid-19 protocols

In Busia County, where six people are admitted in the county isolation centre at Alupe, Health chief officer Isaac Omer said the county infection rate was rising because of the cross border interactions between Kenyans and their neighbours from Uganda. 

"The situation in Uganda is bad and this is compelling us to start thinking otherwise. We may end up locking down the county," said Dr Omer.

In Siaya county, which is now strengthening surveillance for Covid-19 in learning institutions for fear that the virus might be spreading in schools, there are 52 patients in the isolation centre, while 202 are in home isolation.

Governor Cornel Rasanga said on Thursday that there was increasing concern over compliance with Covid-19 protocols in learning institutions and public places.

A cumulative of 111 health professionals have been reported since the onset of Covid- 19 in the county.

The county emergency response team is also facing challenges in inadequate resources for critical response pillars, limiting response capacity in detecting, investigating, contact tracing, and follow-up of cases.

Mr Rasanga stated that it is also difficult to account for difficult to reach cases.

County health executive Dismas Wakla said the Covid-19 vaccine was out of stock. “We are hoping to get some on Friday,” he said.

By Elizabeth Ojina, George Odiwuor, Benson Ayienda, Rushdie Oudia, Ruth Mbula, Derick Luvega, Shaban Makokha, Vitalis Kimutai and Ian Byron

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