Covid-19 positive cases up as experts predict ‘mild’ sixth wave

Covid vaccination

Mary Kusa Naomi receiving Covid-19 vaccination at Dagoretti Deputy County Commissioner's offices on February 3, 2022.

Photo credit: Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

Out of 10 patients tested for Covid-19 at Siaya County Referral Hospital, four have tested positive for the virus, even as scientists predict a looming mild sixth wave to run through June 2022.

According to a report by the Lake Region Economic Bloc, Siaya Referral hospital has recorded an increase in the percentage of those who have tested positive by 43 per cent as the number of cases continues to rise in the country.

This is happening at a time when the country is testing fewer samples and vaccinating a few Kenyans, forcing the experts to call for an urgent increase in the number of samples being tested and vaccinated.

The country is testing less than 2,000 samples a day from a high of 10,000, which means the kits and the reagents used for testing will expire in the coming weeks.

From the report, the committee of eminent persons for Covid-19 control, advisory, resource mobilisation and socio-economic recovery noted that Chulaimbo County Hospital was also experiencing an increase of 10 per cent.

Vaccine expiry risk

“We have noted with concern that some county facilities have depleted their rapid testing kits. For instance, Kakamega County Referral Hospital does not have any kit left for testing, at the same time, vaccination efforts are declining with the risk of vaccine expiry,” said Prof Khama Rogo, the chairperson of the LREB Committee.

He said Siaya County Referral and Chulaimbo hospitals are placed with clearly increased positivity rates. Others like Kisumu County Referral Hospital, JOOTRH, Avenue Hospital, and Aga Khan have reported Covid-19 positive cases.

“We recommend that county health facilities should acquire rapid testing kits. Where possible, we suggest mass testing of people and contact tracing to avert further spread,” he said.

Alongside testing, the committee recommends mass vaccination to attain a 70 per cent vaccination rate, up from the current 31 percent.

“Many Kenyans are not going for their booster shots, it is advisable that fully vaccinated individuals whose booster shots are due should visit vaccination centres to get the boost,” he said.

18 million doses

Data from the Ministry of Health released on Monday indicated that a total of about 18 million doses of vaccines have been administered across the country.

Of these, about 16 million are doses administered to the adult population (18 years and above). With 1.34 million doses administered to those between 15 and 17 years, while 33,452 were administered to those who are 15 and below. Only 323,148 doses have been given as booster doses.

This brings the proportion of adults who are fully vaccinated to 31 percent, while the government is aiming at vaccinating a targeted population of 27 million by the close of the year.

“We are still lagging behind in testing and vaccination, we have gone really down and this may affect us should we experience a stronger wave,” Prof Rogo said.

On Monday, the country administered 6,193 vaccine doses.

So far, only Nyeri County has fully vaccinated more than 51 per cent of its population, followed by Nairobi at 49 per cent, Kakamega at 39 per cent, and Nakuru, Laikipia, Kirinyaga and Taita Taveta counties at 38 percent.

“Information collected during the last couple of days in LREB indicates that a Covid-19 sixth wave is looming, the wave was scientifically predicted to begin in late April and run through June 2022. Our scientists predicted that the sixth wave would likely be mild and run for 40 days,” he said.

Signs of increase in positive cases

Already, he said, signs of an increase in Covid-19 positive cases are now observed.

However, Kenyans seemed to have moved on from the pandemic and are not scared about the rise in the number of cases.

They have gone back to shaking hands, while a few are sanitizing, a sign that should there be a wave, the probability of it spreading is very high.

Experts have now called on Kenyans to revisit the measures to avoid severe symptoms.

“You know when it strikes, it presents differently in individuals, others get mild symptoms while in others it is severe to an extent that we lose them depending on one’s immunity,” says Prof Matilu Mwau, an infectious diseases researcher at the Kenya Medical Research Institute.

“We need to continue washing our hands and social distancing when in public places,” he said.

Be vigilant

Dr Patrick Amoth, the acting director-general in the Ministry of Health, said the virus is still in the community and Kenyans should be vigilant.

“We have not defeated this yet. We have the virus with us and we should continue observing the measures and ensure that we remain safe,” Dr Amoth said.

Prof Shem Otoi, a modelling expert, said the country could be warming up for another Covid-19 wave though it may not be felt since it is projected to be mild.

“My worry is that we are not testing, neither are we vaccinating. There is an urgent need for us to go back to the basics, testing more, vaccinating more if we have the vaccines here,” he said.

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