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State aims to escalate testing of country’s infection cases

Monday, April 20th, 2020 00:00 | By
Health CAS Dr. Mercy Mwangangi with Education Cabinet Secretary Prof George Magoha arrive at Afya House yesterday for the daily briefing on Coronavirus. Mwangangi announced eight more cases of the Covid-19, taking the total number of infections to 270. Photo/PD/JOHN OCHIENG

The war on coronavirus has moved a notch higher after the government embarked on targeted testing in high-risk areas even as the Ministry of Health announced eight new cases bringing the number in the country to 270.

Speaking during the daily Covid-19 brief yesterday, Health Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Dr Mercy Mwangangi said a total of 1,330 people were tested in the last 24 hours out of which the eight returned positive result.  

She said the government was now moving towards increased testing of people in targeted areas and was already testing healthcare workers across the country and employees at the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), where several cases have been reported.

MoH analysis shows that 56 per cent of all confirmed cases were imported, and only 44 per cent have been locally transmitted. 

“With support of Kenyans, the ministry has worked flat-out, including taking unpopular measures, to limit the spread of both sets of transmissions,” Mwangangi said.

“Out of the eight new confirmed cases, seven are Kenyans and one foreign national. None had a history of travel.

At least three emanated from quarantine centres and five were picked up by surveillance teams from various parts of the country,” she said. 

Education Cabinet Secretary Prof. George Magoha said the government has not considered postponing this year’s KCPE or KCSE exams. 

 “I am aware parents are apprehensive but they should be fair with themselves because government has not pronounced itself that the exam will be postponed,” he said

Magoha said he would not be guided by “fear mongers” and said the ministry will announce its plans in the course of the week.

“During the course of next week, we shall tell you the various scenarios we have come up with and not all of them involve a dooms day situation. And since we are optimistic I still refuse to be guided by fear mongers,” said Magoha.

Two people have lost their lives in the last 24 hours bring the total number of deaths to 14. Ministry of Health Director-General, Patrick Amoth said one is a Bangladeshi who tested positive posthumously.

Seven people were discharged yesterday taking the number of recoveries to 67.

Mwangangi said the government was embarking on community policing and will use community health workers for surveillance, deploying more public health officers and other multi-agency teams at road blocks, activation of Nyumba Kumi and use of technology in tracking and surveillance of people breaking the curfew.

Dr Mwangangi, who was accompanied by Trade and Industry CS Betty Maina and Prof Magoha, assured Kenyans that the government continues to enhance its capacity to combat the deadly virus. 

Towards this, the ministry is making good leaps in expanding and spreading testing capabilities across the country, she said.

“The Moi Teaching & Referral Hospital (MTRH) in Eldoret and Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH), here in Nairobi are now testing for Covid-19 disease,” she said. 

She said that the MTRH laboratory covers a scope of 22 Counties whose samples previously had to be transported to far away testing centers.

“The two facilities have been conducting tests in the last few days and are now complementing the efforts of the existing,” she added.

“We are conducting targeted testing for our health care workers especially those working in isolation, treatment and quarantine facilities,” she said.

The CAS said that truck drivers will now be tested at the point of entry to ensure the disease is not imported from neighboring countries.

The government will henceforth carry out screening of truck drivers entering and operating in Kenya. This will be done at roadblocks by a combined team of health and security personnel.

At the same time, all healthcare workers in both public and private facilities are now required to wear protective gear, as part of protecting themselves as they manage patients. She also warned those flouting curfew rules that they risk being put in quarantine for 14 days. 

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