Health officials in Nyanza are sounding the alarm over surging Covid-19 infections as Kisumu County prepares to host the national Madaraka Day celebrations next week.
The spike in infections in Kisumu and Migori counties have been blamed on failure by residents to comply with Health ministry protocols, including masking, washing hands and social distancing.
For the second time in a week, Kisumu on Saturday topped the list of new Covid-19 infections, signalling faster spread of the virus in the region.
The county recorded 103 cases, having registered 102 infections on Tuesday last week.
Seventy of those cases were from Kisumu Central Sub-county, making the city’s central business district a hotspot.
It is within this area that President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga are expected to lead the nation in Madaraka Day celebrations on June 1.
Yesterday, new infections dropped to six but there were at least 22 suspected cases in isolation at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital.
Homa Bay topped the region in infections yesterday with 28 new cases, while Migori had four but the county that borders Tanzania is experiencing infections with its prisons.
Last week, at least 10 remandees at the Kehancha GK Prison tested positive.
Prof Khama Rogo, the Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB) Covid-19 advisory chairman, blamed county governments for failing to enforce the prevention regulations.
“We must now decide what works in the LREB region, without over-reliance on delayed action and unfulfilled promises,” Prof Rogo said on Friday in an advisory to LREB counties.
The fight against the coronavirus, he said, calls for a multi-sectoral approach to arrest surging infections.
But Kisumu Health Executive Boaz Nyunya Sunday attributed the rising infections to targeted testing and contact-tracing being carried out in the region.
“The more testing we carry out, more people are turning positive. If there are positive cases, we then expand the testing to their friends and relatives which is giving us the numbers recorded,” he said.
He blamed residents for failing to heed calls to observe Covid-19 protocols, especially wearing of face masks.
Despite a warning from Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o on the potential of the infections degenerating into a crisis situation, residents and motorists continue to defy health guidelines.
The county boss issued a directive that boda boda operators carry only one passenger as a way of observing social distancing requirements but defiance is the order of the day on the streets.
On Wednesday last week, Siaya County received one referral case of Covid-19 from Kisumu, a clear indication of how the facilities in Lakeside County had been stretched as positive cases continue to surge.
The county had recorded 27 new cases for Covid-19 raising the tally to 1, 078 out of 14, 027 samples tested as at May 18.
Out of these was a woman who was rushed to the Siaya County Referral Hospital Covid-19 treatment centre as she needed oxygen urgently.
Mr Dismas Wakla, the Siaya Health Executive, told Daily Nation that they admitted the woman as she was in distress.
“We have received only one referral from Kisumu. There are rules guiding referral of Covid-19 patients and when they are in distress like this one really requires oxygen, we take them in,” said Mr Wakla.
He added that they were careful with patients from other counties so that they do not expose those in Siaya, coming at a time when Kisumu is said to have patients with the Indian variant.
Siaya constructed several isolation facilities, with the main referral hospital having a capacity of 200 (nine admissions), while Ambira and Bondo sub-county hospitals have 50 beds each that are currently unoccupied.
In Migori, Health Executive Kephas Nyamita said the new cases are currently isolated at the Migori GK Prison.
The county had by last week recorded 1,338 positive cases and 21 deaths since Covid-19 was first recorded in the country.
Mr Nyamita said the mutant variant reported in Kisumu and neighbouring Tanzania had not been detected in the county.
“Our officers are carrying out daily rapid diagnostic tests as part of renewed efforts in the fight against Covid-19, Mr Nyamita said.
Reported by Elizabeth Ojina, Victor Raballa, Ian Byron and Rushdie Oudia