What you need to know:
- Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe, during a daily briefing at the Kakamega County Referral Hospital, said there were 32 testing facilities across the country and that more were being set up.
- Amid plans for decentralised testing, CS Kagwe asked counties with few cases of the virus to intensify contact tracing.
- The ministry and experts have noted that the figures released daily are not an accurate reflection of the country’s situation.
The government is making plans for decentralised Covid-19 testing, the Health ministry said Saturday, amid lack of clarity about where to get tested for the virus.
Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe, during a daily briefing at the Kakamega County Referral Hospital, said there were 32 testing facilities across the country and that more were being set up.
Counties without testing centres have to transport samples to Nairobi and other parts nearest to them for testing, meaning results could take days to be sent back.
Dr Patrick Amoth, acting Director-General for Health Services, said the challenge in setting up centres has been due to lack of reagents applicable to testing systems as they are manufactured in countries in the West and far East so they are not readily available.
Amid plans for decentralised testing, CS Kagwe asked counties with few cases of the virus to intensify contact tracing.
The ministry and experts have noted that the figures released daily are not an accurate reflection of the country’s situation.
As of August 8, Kenya had a total of 25,837 confirmed Covid-19 cases, including 418 deaths and 11,899 recoveries, most of them from the home-based care programme, which Dr Amoth would be the focus.
CS Kagwe spoke against the politicisation of health matters, saying it will detail the campaign to contain the surge in coronavirus cases, with Kenya reporting an estimated 600 to 700 new infections daily.
“There are those who tell me not to be fooled about preparations being made by counties to attain the 300-bed capacity as directed by President Uhuru Kenyatta,” he said.
“But I have seen for myself what Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya has been able to do. This is a truly massive project that will have a positive impact on the region’s health infrastructure,” he said in reference to the county referral hospital.
Speaking earlier while touring the Mumias isolation and treatment center, the CS called on all counties to ensure they attain the minimum bed capacity as cases have been increasing at county level, with all 47 of them now having patients.
“It is better to be safe than sorry. Let people criticise us later, because they will, saying we went on a rampage of putting up beds that were not utilised. We are on the right course,” the CS said.
He lauded Kakamega on its preparedness in terms of contact tracing and the acquisition of beds for isolation facilities.
Kakamega’s Health Chief Officer Beatrice Etemesi said the county had 312 beds as of August 8, when it had recorded less than 20 cases and two deaths.
Mr Kagwe pledged to ensure county governments continue to receive support from the national government, including provision of personal protective equipment and masks for use by healthcare workers in the fight against the pandemic.
“Kenyans don’t have to die because of this disease. We can manage ourselves if we follow the rules which require us to wear face masks and practice social distancing,” he said.
He also praised health workers and said the government will ensure they are well cared for during the pandemic and after it is contained to ensure they are safe and that they remain motivated in their service to the sick.
He asked the health workers not to tire as their work is a calling much as that of nursery school teachers.
“Health workers have the full support of the government because we are committed to seeing nurses and doctors meet patients when they are not annoyed. We appreciate the good work you are offering,” he said in Mumias.
The county hospital that is nearly complete cost Sh2.6 billion.
Governor Oparanya said the county had set up four isolation and treatment centres - at Likuyani, Mumias West, the referral hospital and Masinde Muliro university.
“We are only using the Mumias centre at the moment. If it gets more than 100 Covid-19 patients, we will open the others,” he said.
He added, “We have spent Sh105 million allocated by my government to procure equipment needed by our facilities for Covid-19-related activities. We are yet to spend Sh262 million allocated by the national government as a conditional grant to address the pandemic.”
Health workers at the isolation centres have accused the county of lack of commitment in safeguarding their basic welfare rights.
They raised concerns about the supply of PPEs, claiming they come in small quantities and are of poor quality hence their exposure to the virus.
“The county gets supplies from the national government and well-wishers but they are not given to us. We get them in very small quantities that get finished quickly,” said a worker who requested anonymity.
CS Kagwe on Saturday gave the county a donation of about 4,000 PPEs.