State allays fear over Ebola scare

Kericho medics in protective gear over Ebola scare. Four patients are under isolation at the Kericho county hospital. [Standard]
The Government has downplayed fears of Ebola after a suspected case in Kericho that saw a businesswoman who had travelled to Malaba placed in an isolation unit.

Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki confirmed preliminary results on the isolated patient had confirmed she had no Ebola symptoms.

She said medics have sent blood samples to the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) laboratories in Nairobi for further tests.

She was speaking during an inspection of surveillance measures at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

While urging the public to be vigilant and report any suspected cases to the nearby health facilities, Kariuki disclosed that the ministry has deployed 229 health staff members at various entry points into the country.

Earlier, County Health Executive Shadrach Mutai said blood samples of the patient from Kapsuser ward in Belgut Constituency were being tested at Kemri centre in Kisumu.

Peter Githua, an Ebola expert accredited with the World Health Organisation (WHO), said the woman’s husband and two relatives who took her to the hospital had also been quarantined. 

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“None of them is showing any symptoms of Ebola. It is just a precaution because Ebola is spread by contact. We will keep them in isolation until medical tests determine that they didn’t have Ebola,” he said. 

Dr Mutai had called for calm as Kemri experts conduct tests on the blood samples.

“It’s a relief a bit to know that the patient had not travelled to Kasese in Uganda, where there are confirmed cases of Ebola, or come into contact with anyone from the location. The patient had travelled to Malaba area in the Kenyan side,” he said.

Mutai said the hospital physician and an Ebola expert accredited with the WHO were the only ones allowed to attend to the quarantined patients. 

Governor Paul Chepkwony declared that even if the medical samples sent to Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in Kisumu turned positive, the county had capacity to deal with it. 

“We are also working with WHO and national government. We have a very nice isolation unity within the Kericho County Hospital and neighbouring health facilities,” he said.

Margret Okiro, the administrator at Siloam Hospital, where the patient was first taken at about 5pm on Sunday, said when the latter arrived, she complained of headache, high body temperature, puffy face and diarrhoea.

“Since the Government, through the Ministry of Health, has circulated a well-articulated alert on Ebola to all treating facilities, we decided that the patient required close and further elaborate investigations while under appropriate isolation requirements,” she said.

Belgut Deputy County Commissioner Anthony Macharia said they had instructed chiefs from Kapsuser to scout and refer any other villager who may have come into contact with the isolated individuals to present themselves to the county hospital for medical examination

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Ebola FearsKerichoHealth Cabinet Secretary Sicily KariukiKemriMalabaJomo Kenyatta International Airport