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Home / Health & Science

Teams prepare for possible lockdown over deadly disease

By CYRUS OMBATI | 1 year ago

 A nurse helps a colleague to put on protective gear to guard against coronavirus. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]


Multi-agency teams are rehearsing how they will enforce a total lockdown in case the government orders the drastic action to counter coronavirus.

The teams, including the military, medical personnel and the police, are simulating the worst case scenario, like the directive by Chinese authorities on January 23 to cut all transport into and out of Wuhan, a central Chinese city of 11 million people where the virus is believed to have originated. 

“We have to prepare for the worst. Looking at what happened in Italy and China, it is possible it could happen here. We are just rehearsing on what to do in case we are directed so,” said a senior official aware of the preparations.

Commanders of various sectors have been identified and put on standby for direction from the National Emergency and Response Committee on Coronavirus.

One of the drills is being done at the Kenya Army Embakasi Garrison.

If the emergency extreme measures are applied, health workers with instant testing kits will carry out random tests. Armed security personnel will escort them.

“They will be armed with a thermoscan and other equipment that will aid them in their operations. Let us hope not to get to that level,” said an official aware of the plans.

The training targets groups that will train others.

Kenya Red Cross said they had trained 200 personnel in readiness for the exercise.

“In partnership with Ministry of Health, over 200 Kenya Red Cross staff and volunteers have already been trained on Covid19 since Friday as part of the ongoing preparedness and response measures. More trainings to continue in the course of next week across all the 47 branches in Kenya,” the agency said.

Personnel from St Johns Ambulance too are taking part in the drills.

Those found with symptoms will be taken to an ambulance and quarantined.

The agencies are mobilising food and other supplies in case of total lockdown.

The lockdown would include closing of roads, estates and other places to contain movement of people. The most likely to be affected are urban centres.

In Wuhan, for instance, people were ordered to stay at home unless they wanted to buy groceries or seek medical care. Schools, offices and factories were closed. Private vehicles were banned from city streets. Within days, the shutdown had expanded to cover several other cities. 

The multi-agency teams in Kenya worked to trace the 23 people who were in the same flight from London to Nairobi with patient zero – the code name for the first Kenyan to test positive for coronavirus. The teams also traced some 20 others who are believed to have been in contact with the patient.

The moves are part of efforts being taken to curb the spread of the disease. Already visitations to prisons have been suspended for the next 30 days.

Operations at courts have been scaled down as part of efforts to contain the spread.

President Kenyatta announced schools will be closed until further notice. He added visitors from countries that have reported the disease will not be allowed into the country.

Kenyatta urged government offices, businesses and companies to allow employees work from home with the exception of those working in critical or essential services.

To avoid the risk of transmission through physical handling of money, the President encouraged the use of cashless transactions such as mobile money and credit cards, appealing on mobile operators and banks to consider reducing transaction costs.

People have also been urged to avoid congregating in places of worship as well as crowded places including shopping malls and entertainment premises.

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