State considers stiffer Covid-19 rules in shoot up

Thursday, July 29th, 2021 00:00 | By
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe addresses the press at Afya House in Nairobi. Photo/PD/ALEX MBURU

Rawlings Otieno and George Kebaso

The government yesterday issued an alert over increased cases of Covid-19 infections in Nairobi in the last few weeks and warned that the government could come up with tougher restrictions to contain the situation.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe expressed concern that the positivity rate has shot up from nine per cent two weeks ago to a high of 18 per cent, yesterday. For Nairobi to remain safe, he urged residents to comply with all the laid down protocols.

Kagwe also cautioned counties to prepare sufficient piped oxygen since the nation has started  to witness high demand for Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds and medical oxygen.

“Nairobi is becoming a concern to us. The political class should be sensitive to the current state of affairs.

I urge residents to avoid political gatherings,” said Kagwe. Yesterday, Nairobi recorded 391 cases out of a total of 1, 006 new cases of Covid-19.

Kagwe revealed supply of vaccines has been the biggest hinderance towards achieving the country’s goal of vaccinating most of its population.

In  order to heighten the vaccination exercise, he directed that all the 658 vaccination centres in the country be opened during weekends and asked county governments to support the  Ministry of Health in establishing 3,000 new centres by the end of the year.

This is in response to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s recent directive for the country to vaccinate 10 million people by Christmas, and the entire adult population of 26 million by the end of 2022.

“To achieve these targets, and now with an improved supply chain, I direct that all vaccinations posts under the National government will be opened during weekends and urge county governments to ensure that posts in their jurisdictions also remain open,” the CS said when he handed over an ambulance donated by the European Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) to Turkana county.

AThe Minister said that the country would from next week receive 1.76 million doses of Pfizer vaccine, 410,000 of AstraZeneca from United Kingdom, 235,000 AstraZeneca doses from Greece, 55,000 from Latvia while Covax has allocated 407,040 doses of AstraZeneca and 271,440 of Pfizer.

“Kenya has procured 13 million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The delivery of these vaccines would  start next month. 

He further disclosed  that in preparation for the deployment of Pfizer vaccine, which requires storage at minus 70 degrees, Kenya will receive 15 Ultra Cold Chain freezers from the UPS Foundation of US in the next two weeks valued at Sh15 million (US$150,000).

Vaccination status 

The freezers according to the CS, will guarantee a longer shelf life of the vaccines for six months. 

“UPS will manage the transport from the central stores in Kitengela to the regional stores using special insulated devices from Pfizer’s known as Soft boxes, which maintain ultra-cold chain temperatures using dry ice,” he said.

Despite the global Covid-19 vaccine supply constraints, the CS noted that Kenya has so far administered 1, 692, 793 doses out of the 1,733,100 doses of AstraZeneca to date.

Among the priority groups in the vaccination programme, health workers have been commended for the best uptake of the second dose at 64 per cent, followed by person’s above 58 years old at 63 per cent, teachers at 56 per cent, while security personnel are at 55 per cent.

Despite Nairobi recording the highest number of new positive cases yesterday, its vaccination uptake rate remained  7.1 per cent of the adult population coverage followed by Nyeri at 5.4 per cent and Uasin Gishu at 4.1 per cent.

In the latest Covid-19 figures, Kagwe said some 400 patients in health facilities are in need of oxygen, The number had dropped to 100.

He said that as of July, nearly 650,000 Kenyans had received the second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, adding that 1.8 million doses of Pfizer and some Johnson & Johnson doses shall be disbursed in bits on a monthly basis.

Yesterday, Kagwe announced that 1,006 people tested positive for the disease, from a sample size of 5,584.

From the cases,  966 are Kenyans while 40 are foreigners with 521 being females while 485 are males. The youngest is a three-week-old infant while the oldest is 93 years.

The latest statistics now puts the total confirmed positive cases at 199,941 and cumulative tests so far conducted at 2,109,581.

Some 261 patients were reported to have recovered from the disease with 228 from various health facilities countrywide while 33 are from the Home Based Isolation and Care programme.

Although there were 261 recoveries, some 13 patients succumbed to the disease, all of whom being late deaths reported after conducting facility record audits on diverse dates this month.

This now pushes the cumulative fatalities to 3,895.

A total of 1,386 patients are currently admitted in various health facilities countrywide, while 3,686 are under the Home-Based Isolation and Care programme, with 174 patients being in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), 41 of whom are on ventilator support and 82 on supplemental oxygen while 51 patients are under observation.

Another 433 patients are separately on supplemental oxygen with 387 of them in general wards and 46 in High Dependency Units (HDU).

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