Rising virus cases jolt county bosses

Kakamega Governor Oparanya closes county headquarters for a week after employees test virus positive.

County bosses in Nyanza and Western region have been jolted to action following the surge in Covid-19 numbers, announcing new containment measures yesterday that will see those breaking safety protocols arrested and arraigned.

Governors Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega) and Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o (Kisumu) on Wednesday directed law enforcers to crack down on residents acting recklessly in public places.

In Vihiga bordering the two, the county secretary announced suspension of gatherings of more than five people and banned live interviews at Vihiga FM following an upsurge of Covid-19 cases.

In Homa Bay, rural health facilities are in a crisis after the executive sent nurses to the county referral hospital.

A number of primary healthcare facilities are therefore understaffed, leaving long queues, with most patients forced to seek services from hospitals located far away from their homes.

Koduogo dispensary in Homa Bay Town West ward and Kokwanyo dispensary in Rachuonyo East are among the affected facilities.

Transfer was essential

Homa Bay Health chief officer Jerald Akeche said his office is aware of the crisis. “The transfer was essential in the management of Covid-19. We’re trying to streamline posting of nurses,” he said.

Dr Akeche said his department will post new nurses to the affected dispensaries by the end of the week.

In Kakamega, where 316 cases of coronavirus have been reported since June, 57 of them being healthcare workers, police have been directed not to license any church functions which are turned into political gatherings.

The county headquarters has been shut down for seven days after several workers tested positive for Covid-19.

Governor Oparanya said seven patients have succumbed to the disease in the past five months, with 154 patients currently admitted to hospitals.

The surge in infections has overstretched facilities at the isolation centre at the Mumias County Hospital, which has 90 patients. The hospital’s capacity is 70 patients.

Mr Oparanya told law enforcers to arrest those flouting regulations after chairing the County Covid Response Committee Wednesday.

He announced a crackdown on bars that fail to comply with Covid-19 protocols.

In Kisumu, which had recorded 1,032 cases by Tuesday with 12 deaths, Governor Nyong’o said the spike in the numbers demands urgent intervention. He directed residents to strictly wear face masks properly.

“It’s now confirmed that the Covid-19 pandemic is furiously rampaging through our country, with daily rise in new cases. Deaths have also increased and hospitals are running out of beds. The situation is ballooning into a crisis and Kisumu is not spared,” Governor Nyong’o said after a meeting of the County Covid-19 Multi-Agency Committee, which he co-chairs with County Commissioner Josephine Ouko.

The committee said public Service vehicle operators found flouting safety guidelines will face the law and their Sacco licences withdrawn.

The team also wants burial ceremonies to be restricted to a maximum of 200 mourners and bodies must be buried on the same day they are collected from mortuaries.

Mass eating at funerals remains banned and there shall be no night vigils with bodies.

Eateries and bars too are required to strictly observe Health ministry guidelines.

This, the governor said, will “help us fight this deadly disease. From the current statistics on the spread of the disease, no one is safe,” Prof Nyong’o said.

In Vihiga, the county health department offices located on the fourth floor of the county commissioner's building at Mbale headquarters have been closed for 10 days.

The closure followed the death of a health worker, who had tested positive for Covid on Monday.

Some of the infected healthcare workers had just arrived from Nakuru where they had gone for a working tour. Nakuru has lately been reporting a surge in infections.

Health Chief Officer Arnold Mamadi called for calm even as he ordered fumigation of the offices.

Reporting by Caroline Wafula, Benson Amadala, George Odiwuor and Derick Luvega

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