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Record cases as president set to revise restrictions

Health & Science
 President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Covid-19 cases have increased by almost 10,000 since the lockdown order on Nairobi, Mombasa and Mandera was lifted on July 6, 2020.

Similarly, the number of deaths went up by over 100 during this period, with 280 persons dead so far.

Within this period, the country recorded not only the highest number of deaths in 24 hours, but also cases.

The highest number of deaths was reported on both July 13 and July 21 when 12 people died on each of the two days. The highest number of cases – 960 – was reported yesterday by Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe.

As a result, the number of confirmed cases since the reopening of the economy went up by 9,536 while the fatalities went up by 116. This is an increase of 54 and 41 per cent, respectively.

The 9,536 cases are 1,469 more cases than what the country had recorded between March 13 when the first incident was reported and July 6, when the economy was reopened.

From the tabulations, Nairobi now has the highest number of positive cases with 10,388 after reporting 510 new cases.

“Despite recording the highest positive numbers today, we are also delighted to inform you that 169 patients have been discharged,” said Kagwe in a statement.

Of the three indicators – deaths, new cases and recoveries – the latter increased the most during the three-week period by 68 per cent courtesy of the home-based care programme for asymptomatic cases, which comprise 89 per cent of all Covid-19 patients in the country.

Recoveries increased by 5,329. “Out of 169 recoveries (yesterday), 83 are from various hospitals and 86 are from home-based care, bringing the total number of recoveries to 7,743,” said Kagwe.

In the home-based care programme, patients who do not exhibit symptoms are monitored from home so that hospitals have space for severe cases.

In his address on July 6, President Uhuru Kenyatta said the opening of the economy by lifting the lockdown was temporary and could be reversed in case the country’s health system appeared to be overwhelmed.

“The order to reopen is issued conditionally. Should the situation deteriorate and pose a challenge to our health infrastructure, we will have to revert back to lockdown,” he said.

“Any trends that signal the worsening of the pandemic, we will have no choice but to return to lockdown at zero option.”

While Ministry of Health officials have made it clear that the numbers are still manageable, the rising incidents of positive cases among healthcare workers is the other side of the coin in the fight. As at yesterday, there were 531 confirmed cases among healthcare workers with eight deaths; five in Nairobi and one each in Kajiado, Wajir and Mombasa.

Sick health system

The Wajir case is the latest as it unearthed the unpreparedness of the country since the public health officer is said to have died due to lack of oxygen in the county’s referral hospital.

“What is concerning is that we see many loopholes in the health system and this number will go up. We wonder how many of us have to die for the Government to know this is urgent,” said Kenya Union of Clinical Officers Chairperson Peterson Wachira.

Part of the Government’s preparation for the pandemic is that each county should have 300 isolation beds and designated Covid-19 hospitals.

The latest update is that there are now a total of 12,513 isolation bed out of the 14,100 expected, with 498 Intensive Care Units.

There are also 4,318 doctors, 6,050 clinical officers, 26,767 nurses and 18,789 other health workers across the country as per the latest update by Council of Governors Chairman Wycliffe Oparanya.

Health workers’ unions, however, are demanding employment of 10,000 more medics in order to have the country well equipped to manage the pandemic and also replace those who might get infected.

The Government has already imported 20 specialists from Cuba through the Henry Reeve Medical Brigade who are meant to assist the country in managing critical Covid-19 cases, being specialists in internal medicine, renal and cardiology.

The doctors are stationed at Kenyatta University Teaching Research and Referral Hospital.

However, the planned 5,000 additional healthcare workers as directed by the president to boost the human resource capacity are yet to be employed by the counties.

“We should have healthcare workers on standby, ready to replace those who might get infected. We can buy ICU beds but we need healthcare workers on the ground to take care of the patients,” said Enock Wanyonyi, General Secretary of the Kenya National Union of Medical Laboratory Officers.

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