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Is Kenya prepared to fight Coronavirus?

Health & Science
 Health CS Sicily Kariuki (centre), Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Dr Rashid Aman (left) and Government Spokesperson Colonel Cyrus Oguna during a press conference in Nairobi regarding the outbreak of Novel Coronavirus case in the country. [David Njaaga/Standard]

As at today, Wednesday, February 5, 2020, the coronavirus outbreak has killed nearly 500 people and infected more than 24,000 others globally and of those, over 2,000 cases are in critical condition.

With more than 24,000 cases in China, a growing number of cities have been imposing a range of restrictions in recent days far from central Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak, as authorities struggle to contain the virus.

Global spread: The virus has been confirmed in more than 25 countries since it was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December.

Last week, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a global health emergency.

There have been at least four suspected cases in Kenya, all ruled to be negative.

Standard Digital spoke to Dr. Mercy Korir to help us gain a deeper understanding of the virus. You will also learn in the video below of signs and symptoms and prevention measures you can take towards curbing the deadly virus.

Q & A

How prepared is Kenya in fighting the virus?

Dr. Mercy: The Ministry of Health says it’s prepared to fight the virus but the actual test of preparedness will come when there is an outbreak of coronavirus. However, the four suspected cases have been managed as per the set out protocol by the World Health Organization.

How long would it take to detect such kind of a virus?

Dr. Mercy: To detect the virus, a high index of suspicion should exist. This simply means, there is a criteria on who can be described as a suspected case.

First, one has to have an onset of symptoms of respiratory diseases e.g fever, dry cough or sore throat.

Second, in the last fourteen days, a person should have come in close contact with a suspected case of coronavirus or have travelled to one of the high risk areas where coronavirus is currently spread.

Third, if a person has worked or attended to a health facility that is currently managing the virus.

Are we in a position to test the virus and Do we have measures in place for this scope of an epidemic?

Dr. Mercy: Kenya is currently not in a position to test for the virus. The Public Health laboratory requires to be capacitated, which the country is unable to. However, WHO is in the process of facilitating more material and kits to be brought to assist in taming the virus.

What would it take to cure the novel Coronavirus?

Dr. Mercy: The coronavirus does not have a cure so far. This particular virus has been around since the 1960s and there is no vaccine or cure for it.

The virus has been linked to food products from wildlife e.g game meat. Are Kenyan foods safe for consumption given its wide spread?

Dr. Mercy: Kenyan foods are safe for consumption. The virus is said to have originated from bat meat and as a country, we do not consume this meat. So, it is highly unlikely that our foods can cause this virus.

There has been a claim by Chinese scientists that herbal remedies can treat the disease. Is this true and if yes what remedies?

Dr. Mercy: No herbal remedy has been shown to cure this disease. The remedies may be supportive or help in strengthening the body’s immunity, but not to cure the virus.


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