15 more test positive for deadly Indian Coronavirus variant
George Kebaso @Morarak
The number of people who have contracted the Indian Covid-19 variant in the country has risen to 20 after 15 more cases were detected, the Health ministry disclosed yesterday.
The 15 were part of 18 people who were screened at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) and returned positive results for the deadly strain that is currently ravaging the populous Asian country.
Five of the 20 cases were detected two weeks ago from a group of Indian expatriates who had arrived in the country to undertake a fertiliser project in Kibos area, Kisumu county.
The five had arrived in Nairobi from India and took a connecting flight to Kisumu.
Yesterday, Health Chief Administrative Secretary Rashid Aman confirmed that results from further analysis of the samples taken from the visitors at JKIA on May 2, revealed that 15 were positive for the new deadly variant.
“A further analysis of the tests performed on 17 of the 18 cases screened at JKIA during arrival from India had shown that 15 of them are positive for the new variant.
They are all safely under isolation,” Dr Aman said, further explaining that they are not symptomatic and, therefore, do not require hospitalisation.
Further analysis of samples taken from the tests conducted at JKIA from passengers arriving in Kenya from India is being conducted at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) Wellcome Trust in Kilifi and the Kemri Centres for Disease Control (CDC) campus in Kisumu.
The news came as India’s Covid-19 crisis showed no signs of easing, with nearly 330,000 new cases detected and 3,900 deaths recorded on Tuesday.
Acting Director General of Health Patrick Amoth, however, said the variant did not pose a serious threat to the general populace but stressed the need for Kenyans to get vaccinated: “Even if it is one dose, we are emphasising that people should be vaccinated because the vaccine gives 70-100 per cent protection from severity of the disease,” he said.
The Council of Governors (CoG) had separately indicated that 70 more people suspected to have come in contact with the five positive cases in Kisumu, had successfully been traced and placed under isolation.
Council chairman Martin Wambora told journalists at the CoG headquarters that the contact tracing was done swiftly because contact details of the persons in question had been recorded on arrival at JKIA.
“Contact tracing has been quite easy and fast since we had all the details of the persons recorded on arrival at JKIA two weeks ago,” Wambora said.
He, however, appealed to the national government and counties not to impose any more lockdowns going forward.
He argued that in view of the country’s battered economy as a result of cessation of movement and zoning, it would be important for the government to review that position in future to avoid more economic disruptions.
The governors noted that the number of Covid-19 patients admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and High Dependency Unit (HDU) facilities across the country had decreased significantly in the past week.
“Let’s go easy in locking down the country looking at the economic impact the country has experienced since the Covid-19 triggered restrictions on movement.
As governors, therefore, going forward we want to ask the national government and ourselves that we ensure that we don’t affect everyone with the lockdowns,” he said.
He said that as at last week, 282 ICU beds were available in hospitals across the country but the figure shot up by 78 beds to 360 this week. Available HDU beds also increased to 123 from 101 last week.
Data from 24 counties across the country, according to Wambora, shows that at least 1,165 patients are under home-based isolation, a figure he said had declined compared to previous records.
“This can be attributed to the adherence of the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health on home-based care,” he added.
He urged Covid-19 patients with little or no symptoms to embrace the home-based care option to allow isolation facilities be utilised by those in critical condition.