As Covid-19 death toll rises, ministry says curve ‘may flatten in two weeks’

Health Services acting Director-General, Dr Patrick Amoth, speaks during a daily briefing on the Covid-19 pandemic in Kenya at Afya House in Nairobi on September 14, 2020.

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Two were reported dead on Monday, nine on Tuesday, five on Wednesday, another five on Thursday and seven on Saturday, raising the death toll to 689.
  • However, Health Services acting Director-General, Patrick Amoth, said there is no cause for alarm as the number of deaths were not necessarily in the last 24 hours.
  • The statement brings to question the numbers the ministry has been announcing in its daily briefings.

The country’s coronavirus curve is expected to flatten in the next two weeks even as the number of recorded Covid-19 deaths continues to rise.

In the last one week, Kenya has recorded slightly less than 50 deaths with the highest number, 13, recorded on Friday.

Two deaths were recorded on Monday, nine on Tuesday, five on both Wednesday and Thursday and seven on Saturday, raising the death toll to 689.

However, Health Services acting Director-General, Patrick Amoth, says there is no cause for alarm as the deaths did not necessarily occur in the last 24 hours.

“Some of the deaths were not recorded in the last 24 hours since counties are very slow in remitting data to the Ministry of health. They are using the manual system to transfer the data so it takes days to get it,” he said.

He added that in the next two weeks, the country will likely have flattened the curve.

Dr Amothj's remarks brings to question the numbers the ministry has been announcing in its daily briefings.

Responding to the question, he said because of the limited testing capacity, the ministry is not able to capture everyone exposed to the virus, hence the low number of samples tested in a day.

“The number of samples we have been testing in a day has tremendously reduced. Not all results announced are for samples collected on the same day. We have a huge shortage of testing kits,” he said.

Second wave

Dr Amoth said he is more worried about the second wave since it affects all age groups.

“There is no second wave in the country but when it strikes, there will definitely be an emergency going by what we are witnessing in other countries. No one will be spared,” he said.

“Whether we announce the infections or deaths daily is not anything to worry about but we should be more concerned about the second wave. This will be more dangerous,” he said.

Officially, 689 people have died of coronavirus but the number could be higher as the country’s testing capacities are limited, especially in the counties.

The deaths, Dr Amoth said, are still a strikingly small proportion of official case counts — less than two per cent of the 37, 871 people who have tested positive for the virus so far.

Kenya’s fatality rate stands at 1.8 per cent against the 3.2 per cent globally.

Latest update

On Saturday, Kenya recorded a total of 164 (115 males and 49 females) new covid-19 cases from a sample size of 3,872 tested in the last 24 hours bringing the total number of cases to 37,871. Cumulatively, the country has tested 536, 601 samples.

From the latest cases, 140 are Kenyans and 24 foreigners.

The new cases are distributed in 21 counties with Nairobi leading at 41 cases followed by Busia 22, Kisumu 17, Turkana 14, Embu 12, Mombasa 11, Nakuru 10. West Pokot six, Trans Nzoia five with Narok, Machakos, Uasin Gishu recording four cases each. Kilifi three, Bungoma, Kiambu and Marsabit two cases each.

Kakamega, Kericho, Nandi, Siaya, Taita Taveta recording a case each.

The ministry said 77 more people had recovered from the disease, 40 from hospitals and 37 from the home-based care programme, bringing the number of recoveries to 24,581.

Counties audit

Meanwhile, the audit of the billions of shillings disbursed to counties for the fight against Covid-19 starts next month amid claims the devolved units could have misappropriated the funds.

At least 13 documents are required during the audit that starts on October 5 and runs through the entire month to ascertain utilisation of the Sh8.2 billion disbursed to the 47 counties.

Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu released the October audit timelines through a letter dated September 23.

Council of Governors (CoG) chief executive Jacqueline Mogeni received the letter copied to CoG chairman Wycliffe Oparanya on September 24.

In the letter, Ms Gathungu says the special audit is intended to ascertain utilisation of the Covid-19 funds between March 1-July 31.

Among the documents required are the approved work, procurement and training plans for Covid-19 activities.

Others are the county assembly approvals of Covid-19 budgets and financing agreements in cases where counties received cash donations.

Schedules of all the funds received, including donations for the Covid-19 activities indicating the specific bank accounts into which the funds were deposited will also be verified during the audit.

The schedules, according to the letter seen by the Sunday Nation, should be accompanied by certified copies of bank statements.

The auditors will also look at expenditure records, procurement records, cash books, vote books including all receipts and payment vouchers accounting for receipt and utilisation of Covid-19 funds.

County tours

Ms Gathungu’s team will also tour Covid-19 isolation and quarantine centres set up by counties while at the same time look at copies of reports submitted to the Controller of Budget.

“This is to inform you that a special audit team from my office will be visiting your county government offices to conduct the exercise. The exercise will commence with entry meetings followed by review of documentation,” Ms Gathungu says in the letter.

On October 5, the first day of the exercise, the audit team will be in Turkana, Busia, Laikipia, Kiambu, Nandi, Homa Bay, Samburu, Wajir, Nairobi, Tharaka Nithi, Kajiado and Embu counties.

In July, the National Treasury embarked on a similar exercise saying the funds were disbursed to the 47 counties towards fighting Covid-19.

There is a major concern that the funds could have been diverted to other areas not related to Covid-19 activities.

Further, there are fears that the funds could have either been misapplied or misappropriated.

The funds were meant to be used to ensure availability of medical supplies and equipment, quarantine, isolation and treatment areas, medical waste disposal and sensitisation drives.

In one of his past addresses, CoG chairman painted a gory picture of the country’s health sector in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and called for support from the national government and other partners.