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Low turnout in Mombasa mass testing drive hurts corona fight

By Jael Mboga | May 2nd 2020 at 02:06:40 GMT +0300

In a bid to flatten the coronavirus infections curve, the Health ministry has kicked off mass testing in Nairobi and Mombasa.
 
In his daily updates, Health CS Mutahi Kagwe said the testing will start in areas listed as hotspots.
 
Other than Nairobi, Mombasa has recorded a soaring number of infections, leading to its placement in the list of counties under lockdown.
 
Others are Kwale, Kilifi, Mandera and the Nairobi Metropolitan Area.
 
As the virus continues to spread across the country more new cases are reported in areas with zero infections previously.
 
On Saturday morning, Wajir county confirmed its second coronavirus case.
 
By the end of Friday, the national tally stood as 411 and fatalities at 21.
 
Kagwe admitted that the trend in Mombasa is worrying.
 
Mass testing kicked off in Kawangware and Eastleigh in Nairobi, on Friday and the Old Town mass testing rolled out on Thursday, targeting its 28,000 residents.
 
However, only 131 have come out to be tested.
 
The ministry has identified markets as among the high-risk areas for transmission.
 
Health Ag Director General Patrick Amoth on Friday said moving forward, actions on the coronavirus pandemic will be determined by findings from the mass testing.
 
Low Turnout
The mass testing in Mombasa's Old Town, however, hit a snag when residents turned out in low numbers.
 
Many fear if they are found positive they will be forced into mandatory quarantine and required to pay for their upkeep while there.
 
The pandemic has hurt business and traders, especially the youth and those in informal employment.
 
Many live from hand to mouth and may not be able to afford quarantine payment.
 
Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho and county commissioner Gilbert Kitio showed concern over the low turnout, urging residents to take advantage of the mass testing.
 
Whilst testing services are available in hospitals, the private facilities charge between Sh10,000-Sh20,000.
 
Government institutions offer the service at a subsidised rate of between Sh2,000-Sh4,000, an amount the majority of the population may not afford.
 
Out of the 124 cases confirmed in Mombasa, 36 are from Mvita and 20 from Old Town. The herbalist who died of coronavirus in Mombasa was also from Old Town.
 
Addressing the press, Joho said the residents' violation of rules will hurt the fight against coronavirus.
 
Some Muslim faithful still find their way into the mosque to pray, violating the rule against gatherings and social distancing.
 
Follow the laid down rules to avoid a total lockdown, a stern Joho said.
 
The leaders said mosque administrators allowing faithful during the Ramadan period to come in risk being arrested.
 
Those found will be tested and taken into mandatory quarantine if need be. 

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