Clinics for chronic conditions were the hardest hit during the first three months of the Covid-19 pandemic as the government insisted rise in cases among healthcare workers will not affect services.
The assurance follows a World Health Organisation (WHO) concern that more than 10,000 healthcare workers in Africa have been infected, raising fears it will disrupt services in hospitals.
The number of healthcare workers who have contracted Covid-19 stands at 526, while two nurses and one doctor have succumbed. The latest facility to be affected is the National Spinal Injury Hospital, where 19 healthcare workers got infected.
Yesterday, Ministry of Health Chief Administrative Secretary Mercy Mwangangi said 796 more people had tested positive in 24 hours, the highest number so far, raising the national caseload to 15,601.
Director of Public Health Francis Kuria (pictured above) said with the increase in the coronavirus cases, the number of infected healthcare workers is also bound to go up.
Kuria said while there have been claims the infections resulted from handling patients and challenges with Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), it should be known that infections among this cohort can be as a result of interacting with the community.
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“Some healthcare workers are in the Intensive Care Unit, yes, but some have mild symptoms. All times we insist they should wear the PPEs even when they are not in the hospital working,” said Kuria.
Pumwani Maternity Hospital, Othaya Referral Hospital in Nyeri, Coast General Hospital (Mombasa) and Shalom Hospital in Machakos have reported a considerable number of healthcare workers testing positive for the virus.
Mwangangi said so far, 3.6 per cent of the positive cases are healthcare workers.
“If this was to go up to 10 per cent, then it will be grave and will have an implication on service delivery. But we have made plans to ensure that despite the increase, you can still visit the clinic and expectant mothers can get services in hospitals,” said Mwangangi.
This dip in services, however, has already been witnessed in preliminary findings of an upcoming report of the Ministry of Health as intimated by Mwangangi.
The report shows that the pandemic reduced outpatient visits by 30 per cent between March and May.
“This means there were people who were afraid, could not or did not want to get to hospitals due to the pandemic,” she said.
The worst-hit are outpatient clinics handling chronic conditions like diabetes, HIV and Tuberculosis.
“We saw an almost 60 per cent dip, which means people with diabetes were not going back to get their refills,” said Mwangangi.
The death toll now stands at 263 after three more persons died.