Panic in counties as daily Covid-19 cases near 1,400

People at the gate of Kakamega General Hospital. Officials blame the rising number of coronavirus cases in the region to residents ignoring health protocols.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Another 15 patients died, bringing the death toll to 996.
  • There are at least 1,241 patients admitted to hospital.
  • Another 4,495 Covid-19 patients are on home-based care programme.

 Fear has gripped residents of counties outside the initial epicentres of coronavirus – Nairobi and Mombasa – with more deaths and unprecedented infection rates recorded.

Total infections in the country reached 55,192 yesterday when 1,395 people were confirmed to have the virus.

Another 15 patients died, bringing the death toll to 996.

There are at least 1,241 patients admitted to hospital.

County government administrations and health workers say hospitals could soon be overwhelmed by the teaming number of coronavirus patients. Another 4,495 Covid-19 patients are on home-based care programme.

Ventilator support

Of the admissions, some 55 patients are in intensive care, 32 on ventilator support and 23 on supplementary oxygen, according to the Ministry of Health.

The surge of infections, coupled with deaths of high profile personalities have left residents of Kakamega county in fear.

In the past two days, Kakamega has witnessed the deaths of county chief of staff Robert Sumbi, gubernatorial candidate in the 2017 election Mable Muruli and Dr Daniel Alushula, a surgeon at the referral hospital.

Two nurses in the ICU are said to be in stable condition.

Dr Alushula was reported to have taken a Covid-19 test with colleagues a week ago.

“He showed no symptoms and was admitted to hospital for treatment but his condition deteriorated,” a doctor at the hospital told the Sunday Nation.

Reduce meetings

Health workers yesterday asked politicians to reduce meetings that they blame on the escalating cases.

They added that more than 1,000 health care workers have been infected with coronavirus and that many have died in the line of duty.

Kakamega reported 15 new infections yesterday, even as theNairobi continued to lead in the numbers.

The city recorded 569, followed by Nakuru (149), Kiambu (148) and Mombasa (147).

While most rural counties recorded fewer than 100 cases, the infections are increasing drastically.

The situation has sent authorities and health managers into a state of alert amid shortages of personal protective equipment and healthcare workers.

There is also the threat of strikes by doctors and other medical employees.

Nakuru has been reporting many cases in the recent past.

Increased community infections have been blamed on Kenyans flouting guidelines meant to stop the pandemic, such wearing face masks, frequent washing of hands, social distancing and avoiding handshakes.

Experts say the virus is being spread at social gatherings, with political meetings also receiving a fair share of the blame.

The devolved government of Kakamega has begun instituting measures to stop the spread of the deadly virus,  with Butere Hospital suspending operations at the theatre after six patients tested positive.

The centre will be fumigated before operations resume.

Health care workers, county government employees, inmates and prison warders have been infected with Covid-19.

In his briefing to the media after chairing the County Covid-19 Response Committee this week, Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya said the region has recorded more than 300 cases of coronavirus since June , among them 57 health care employees.

Mr Oparanya said seven people have died in the last five months while 154 are in hospital.

The surge in infections has stretched facilities at the Mumias County Hospital isolation centre, which now has 90 patients.

The centre has space for 70 patients only.

Patients in critical condition are taken to the County Referral Hospital.

Governor Oparanya said Kakamega faces a shortage of ICU specialists and plans to recruit the doctors on contract.

He called on police to enforce the Ministry of Health guidelines and protocols.

The surge in infections is fuelled by crowding in social places.

The situation is complicated by the shortage of kits and reagents for testing.

Samples have to be taken to  Kenya Medical Research Institute laboratories in Kisumu before the results are released a day or two later.

Health executive Collins Matemba said many patients are asymptomatic, meaning the disease is spreading fast.

The crackdown on those visiting public places without wearing masks began on Friday.

Kakamega Central police boss David Kabena said 100 people were arrested. “We will intensify the crackdown,” Mr Kabena said.

bamadala@ke.nationmedia.com

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