Nafisa Hussein cannot believe she is still alive, four days after her family made frantic calls to hospitals in Mombasa searching for a bed in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
She had developed breathing problems at home on Friday. She was rushed to a private hospital in Nyali where a doctor told her she was suffering from a viral infection and had a urinary tract infection.
But she sought a second opinion at Mombasa Hospital, where it was confirmed she had Covid-19.
Some private hospitals refused to admit her with her health insurance cover. Her family could not get an ICU bed in Mombasa, with some hospitals demanding a down payment of Sh300,000.
“I had to be rushed to Diani in Kwale in an ambulance. I was almost dying, I was out of air,” Ms Hussein said.
Although not out of the woods yet, she said the disease can exhaust a family’s finances.
“I saw death. I was so worried but I’m taking a day at a time. At first I thought it was pneumonia only for my fears to be confirmed,” she said.
She urged Kenyans to strictly adhere to the Ministry of Health protocols to keep the disease at bay, especially wearing a face mask.
Dr Ahmed Kalebi, a specialist in general and anatomical pathology, and laboratory medicine, claimed there was a surge in coronavirus cases in Mombasa, with all ICU beds at Coast General Teaching and Referral Hospital and private hospitals full.
“It appears that the Ministry of Health is woefully under-reporting actual data. I’m reliably informed by senior doctors in Mombasa that there’s a terrible surge in Mombasa where all ICU beds are full. While Covid-19 wards are overwhelmed, that is not reflected in Ministry of Health statistics,” he said.
Part of the problem, he said, was that many cases are being diagnosed in hospitals and clinics using antigen tests/CT-scans instead of PCR (polymerase chain reaction, a test performed to detect genetic material from coronavirus).
“Because the Ministry of Health simply doesn’t collate data on non-PCR tests from these medical facilities, the data does not represent a true picture,” he said, urging counties and the national government to find ways of ensuring all positive antigen tests and CT-scans are reported to the centralised database.
PCR tests have their drawbacks compared with antigen tests, Dr Kalebi said, including cost and turnaround time.
But the Mombasa County government rejected the claims, describing them as outrageous.
“When coronavirus cases were high, we had 150 beds at Coast General and 300 at the Technical University of Mombasa,” said Health Chief Officer Dr Khadija Shikely.
“Currently we have 40 beds set aside for coronavirus patients at Coast General. At the moment we have 38 patients.”
On Tuesday, the county will open a Covid-19 facility at Tudor Sub-County Hospital to take care of mild and moderate cases.
“Our ICU is not full. We are wondering why someone would speak about Mombasa while in Nairobi instead of coming to Mombasa, that’s reckless,” Dr Shikely said.
“He should have spoken with authorities in Mombasa to establish the truth before giving outrageous comments to the media. There’s no crisis.”
Mombasa County has less than 50 ICU beds.
At Aga Khan Hospital in Mombasa, Dr Hemed Twahir, the medical director, said his Covid-19 ICU facility was full with Covid-19 patients.
“We have two ICUs, one for normal patients with a four-bed capacity and we only had two patients. The Covid-19 ICU capacity is 11 and we have 11 patients,” he said.
On July 11, the Ministry of Health reported, Mombasa had only five cases.
“We have been recording few cases, we are flattening the curve,” Gilbert Kitiyo, the county Covid-19 response committee co-chairman, told the Nation in an interview.
As of Tuesday, Mombasa had recorded 34 new confirmed coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours with the health department warning that residents have started disregarding the Ministry of Health protocols.
Currently, there are 62 coronavirus patients admitted in various hospitals within the county seven on supplementary oxygen in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and 23 on supplemental oxygen in general wards.
ICUs in private hospitals are also full with patients as some facilities demand Sh300,000 upfront before admission.
Mombasa county public health chief officer Pauline Oginga refuted reports of a spike.
“There’s no spike. Cases are fluctuating because of testing. When we lack reagents, we take our samples to Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) in Kilifi, which is also relied on by other counties at the Coast,” revealed Ms Oginga.
However, she insisted that people have let their guards down by disregarding the Ministry of Health protocols.
“Covid-19 is real. We urge the residents to be careful. We don’t want to impose any containment measures like in the western counties, but everyone must wear their face masks, maintain social distance, wash our hands or use sanitisers,” she insisted.
The county has recorded a total of 12,632 confirmed cases as of July 10.
“One death has been reported over the last 24 hrs. The total number of deaths reported since the beginning of the outbreak is 251 cases, the case fatality rate is 2.0 per cent,” read a statement from the county.
Of the 12,632 confirmed cases, only 430 presented with symptoms.
According to the county department of health, the most common symptoms among symptomatic patients are coughs, fevers, and difficulty in breathing.
Mvita sub-county is leading with 19 cases, Kisauni 6, Changamwe three, Likoni one while Jomvu and Nyali did not record any case.
Mvita also has the highest attack rate at 3046 per 100,000 population.
“Of the 12,632 confirmed cases, a total of 12,414 cases are local transmissions. Some 308 contacts are under follow-up. In the last 24 hours, 219 samples were tested across various laboratories of which 34 samples turned positive for Covid-19,” the county revealed.
The monthly positivity rate for July is at 13.2 percent as of 10th slightly higher than the previous month.
A total of 161,757 cumulative tests have so far been conducted.
Eighteen patients have recovered and discharged bringing the total number of recoveries and discharges to 10,738.
So far 11, 578 have received their second dose for Covid-19 vaccination, health care workers leading with 2853, security personnel 2658, teachers 1697, individuals above 58 4549 and others 5830.
Since March 22, 2020, when the first case was confirmed in Mombasa, a total of 12,632 confirmed cases and 251 deaths have been recorded.
“Of these, 12,632 cases 12,414 those are 99.7 percent were local transmissions and 278 that is 2.3 percent as imported cases. More males compared to females have been affected by the pandemic,” read the report.
Males at 68 percent while women at 32 percent.
The county cited some challenges in the fight against the pandemic.
“Many cases are re-tested but unfortunately reported as new cases if thorough data cleaning is done these cases may account for up to 10 percent to 15 percent of the whole data,” said the county government.