Isolation the best bet in efforts to stop coronavirus, experts say

Wednesday, March 25th, 2020 21:01 | By
Travellers who arrived into the country yesterday at the Pride Inn Hotel, Nairobi, which is an quarantine-designated facility. Photo/Courtesy

Emeka-Mayaka Gekara

Chinese authorities announced yesterday plans to lift the mass quarantine on the central province of Hubei, after coronavirus cases reduced significantly.

Wuhan city—the epicentre of the outbreak in China—will end restrictions from April 8.

 But how did China doit? The country  reacted to the outbreak with courage and conviction, the World Health Organision (WHO) says in its assessment of China’s response to the pandemic that has claimed close to 17,000 people. 

Chinese authorities have been widely credited for swiftly stemming the pandemic by strictly following a regime of measures, including lockdown and self-quarantine of  citizens.

 “The Chinese accepted and adhered to the starkest of containment measures,” says the WHO in an assessment report. Hospital beds which were overflowing with Coronavirus cases are now empty.

 In the various government measures to tame the spread of the virus,  Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe ordered that travellers coming into the country will undergo mandatory quarantine for 14 days, at their own expense.

The CS  has insists that Kenya adopts the Chinese model in the fight against Covid-19. 

The minister is currently monitoring efforts to quarantine individuals who had flown into the country this week in government-designated facilities after a traveller who violated the directive for self-isolation tested positive for the virus.

“They will be given a choice at the airport. Wherever they go, there will be Ministry of Health officials and security personnel.

They are not prisoners, we just want to ensure security. We are training hotel staff to not expose themselves unnecessarily,” Kagwe said when he announced that the country had confirmed nine more cases, bring the total to 25 said.

Health experts who spoke to People Daily said though punishing, quarantine remains  among the best measure in the battle against Covid-19. The other is social  distancing.

 “The situation would have been better had the two patients in Siaya and Kilifi been on self or forced quarantine.

Quarantine will prevent the influx of cases into the country and prevent exposure,” said Moses Masika, a virologist at Kenyatta National Hospital.   

He was referring to the priest in Siaya and the Kilifi governor both of whom tested positive and  had travelled back from abroad and failed to self-isolate.

“Quarantine is for those who coming from environments which are exposed to the virus. Those are the ones who are being forcibly quarantined,” said Paul Yonga, an infectious disease expert.

“There should also focus on social distancing because most cases was transmitted following interaction with initial patients,” he noted.

Kagwe has also pointed that there should greater focus on the elderly, who studied have revealed to be the most vulnerable.

Under his strategy, the government has prioritised active, exhaustive case finding and immediate testing and isolation, painstaking contact tracing and rigorous quarantine of close contacts. 

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