An 11-bed isolation ward at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) is all that the government has in case coronavirus spreads to the country.
In the wake of the resumption of flights between Kenya and China, the Ministry of Health was yesterday at pains to explain how prepared the country was to tackle the killer virus.
The virus that originated in China has been detected in 38 countries.
The Chief Administrative Secretary in the Ministry of Health Rashid Aman, while addressing a press conference at the ministry headquarters yesterday, said no passenger from China would be denied entry just because they come from the virus prone Asian country. He said that would be discriminatory.
“An imported case of the virus can come from a variety of places, and not just China,” said Dr Aman.
Covid 19 Time Series
Aman said Kenya did not ban flights from China, adding that it was the latter that suspended flights for two weeks, and the latest arrival was just a resumption.
A China Southern Airline, with 239 passengers, arrived in the country this week causing an uproar over the possible outbreak of the deadly disease in Kenya.
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The plane, the ministry said, had 198 passengers of Chinese nationality, 13 Kenyans and 21 who were on transit.
The ministry later released a statement saying the passengers ha d been instructed to self-quarantine for 14 days just as a precautionary measure.
The CAS appeared to struggle to explain how the self-quarantine would work to ensure the virus, in case some of them are infected, does not spread.
“Passenger on quarantine does not mean they are infected, it is just that they might have been exposed,” said Aman.
He said the passengers were given explicit instructions to monitor themselves, not to leave their houses and if there was a change in their vitals, then they should contact the nearest health facility. “To some extent we are counting on their honour to follow the instructions,” said Aman.
He said the ministry was not aware of claims that some Chinese, who were on the flight, were supposed to be on quarantine but were mingling with other people. “It is only when one tests positive for the virus or presents the symptoms that they will be taken into isolation either at Kenyatta National Hospital or Mbagathi,” said the official.
“The 11 beds at KNH are enough for now, considering the situation,” he said.
But the ward at Mbagathi, with 120 beds, which Aman said the Government had taken over, is yet to be equipped. “We are fast-tracking equipping the ward. Maybe in a month’s time it will be ready,” he said.