Health workers at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) in Eldoret were on Wednesday evening put on high alert after word went round that a member of staff who was on a trip to Nigeria had contracted coronavirus.
The hospital management in a statement to newsrooms clarified that there is no confirmed case of the disease at the hospital.
“We want to assure the public that there is no suspected case of Covid-19 infection at MTRH. Up to this time, there is also none anywhere else in the country as monitored and reported by the Ministry of Health,” said MTRH Chief Executive Officer Wilson Aruasa.
“We urge members of the public not to circulate false and misleading information. Members of the public are encouraged not to panic and adhere to safety measures as outlined by the World Health Organisation,” added Dr Aruasa.
He said the hospital, the second largest in the country after Kenyatta National Hospital, has put in place adequate measures in case of any emergency adding that a 24-member special team has been constituted to handle any outbreak of the disease in the region in conjunction with national team chaired by Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe.
Dr Aruasa said that a team has been made that will assist the taskforce formed by President Uhuru Kenyatta last week in the Western part of the country.
“MTRH has put in place a multi-disciplinary taskforce working under the guidance of the Ministry of Health. We are also working very closely with all counties, faith-based hospitals, private hospitals and clinics,” said the official.
“We will be covering for them the 22 counties in the Western part of the country by relying accurate information regarding the Corona virus which started two months ago in Wuhan, Province of Hubei, China,” added Dr Aruasa who will oversee the team.
The team will be chaired by Dr Simiyu Taabu from the Emergency and Disaster and Preparedness department.
Dr Aruasa said they were working hand in hand with county and private hospitals in the region to inform both medical personnel and residents what to do in case they come across a suspected case of the novel virus.
The taskforce is mandated to train medical personnel of the hospital as they await the ministry to kick off training of all the medics that also covers all county hospitals.
“This team has started training our internal staff more so those in the front line like the emergency department, child, ambulatory and private wing. We have also set aside an emergency fund to facilitate our preparedness,” said Dr Aruasa.
The medic disclosed that the hospital has 10 beds ready to handle any case which requires isolation and another 15 beds constructed by World Bank funds will be ready by March 15.
“Currently we have 10 beds available and the ministry has instructed the contractor to finish the 15-bed isolation room funded by World Bank to be ready by mid this month and as we speak, the contractor is on site. We have also instructed counties to set aside some few beds which can be used in any suspected case of quarantine,” explained Dr Aruasa.
He said Uasin Gishu county government is among counties which have been mapped out as high risk of Covid-19 and the hospital is working in collaboration with the Eldoret International Airport in monitoring flights to the facility in order to stop infected people getting into the country through it.
Uasin Gishu County officials have asked the airport’s public health department to devise all possible ways to work with the county in ensuring residents are protected from the novel virus.
“There is an urgent need to train health staff on risk management of corona virus to enable them understand the virus so as to educate the public on how to prevent infection and spread the virus,” said Acting Chief officer of Health Kenneth Mbeka.
The airport’s public health officer Jimmy Tsuma said that they were taking every precaution to ensure that all those landing are screened.
“We conduct screening on all passengers arriving with a thermoscranner that is calibrated at 38 degrees Celsius, anyone with higher than 38, running nose, coughs and experiences breathing difficulties is quarantined for further diagnosis to be done,” Mr Tsuma told the Nation.
Meanwhile, Uasin Gishu Senator Margret Kamar wants the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) to urgently establish quarantine rooms in all airports where passengers suspected to have corona virus can be quarantined for a period of 14 days.
Prof Kamar criticised the government for handling the challenge of the virus casually.
She said self-isolation is not effective and the government ought to manage it at the airports.
“We are extremely worried with the manner in which the government has been handling the whole issue of the virus, we need to have quarantine places in all airports in the country to monitor passengers coming in our country from countries suspected to have the virus,” said Prof Kamar.