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Hospitals set to test all new patients for Covid

HEALTH & SCIENCEBy GRAHAM KAJILWA | Tue,May 12 2020 00:00:00 EAT
By GRAHAM KAJILWA | Tue,May 12 2020 00:00:00 EAT


Health Director General Patrick Amoth has said mandatory testing is necessary to curb cases of patients dying in hospitals and at their homes unaware of their Covid-19 status. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

A test for Covid-19 will soon be mandatory for all patients visiting health facilities as the government plans to minimise the risks associated with the spread of the disease. 

As 28 new cases were announced yesterday with the government calling for voluntary testing, the cost for hoteliers to take the Covid-19 tests was also slashed to Sh1,000 per person in government facilities. This is from a standard price of Sh4,000.

These efforts are in line with the government’s plan to increase testing even as it admitted a challenge in accessing reagents.

Covid 19 Time Series


Unaware of status

Patrick Amoth, Health Director General, said with the cases of patients dying in hospitals and at their homes, some of them unaware of their Covid-19 status, it has become imperative to include a test for the Sars-CoV-2 virus as a standard operating procedure.

“This will not only protect health workers but also the patients who are treated by the same healthcare workers,” Dr Amoth said.

He added that the government had taken note of cases which are discovered to have been positive for coronavirus after their deaths. This has raised a concern, especially at the Coast.

“When people die at the facility level, they put at risk health workers and other patients in the wards whose immune system is already compromised,” he said.

Numbers from Afya House show that at least 34 health care workers have been exposed to the virus.

"We are in the process of revising our guidelines so that we make Covid-19 test part of the standard operating procedures," he said.

Most of these patients are people with underlying health conditions and the elderly. These two categories of persons have a higher mortality rate.

Wake-up call

In the update about the disease issued yesterday, a 33-year-old was the latest fatality, which the DG noted was a wake-up call. This is the first death in this age group, which is considered super spreaders since a majority of them are asymptomatic or have mild illnesses associated with Covid-19.

The death toll now stands at 33 as confirmed cases rose to 700. The number of recoveries also went up by 12 to 251.

“Some of these deaths are mostly of aged people, some who have underlying health conditions. What we want is to discourage people from keeping their sick at home, then it turns out they have Covid-19, and by that time they have spread the virus,” Dr Rashid Aman, Health Chief Administrative Secretary, said.

Dr Aman said while the government seeks, and is pushing to test more people, the constraint is reagents.

“Even those who produce cannot keep up with the demand so manufacturers are using a quota system to release the reagents in different parts of the world,” he said.

“There is no way a country, any country, can test all its population. It is not tenable. Our testing will be guided by mapping of the disease.”

He said Kenyans, whether sick or not, should still endeavour to go to health facilities and get tested.

One of the reasons for failing to visit hospitals, however, is the dependence on herbal remedies, as witnessed at the Coast where an 84-year-old traditional healer became a super spreader and later died.

While Dr Aman agrees that the disease has no registered remedy yet, he said all the traditional remedies should be used with caution.

"It does not mean we do not encourage local solutions. We have the Kenya Medical Research Institute looking in that area.

"We want to encourage this, but let it be systematic and done in a scientific way," Aman said.

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