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Bodies of Covid-19 victims not infectious, says Ministry of Health

Reproductive Health - By Dr Mercy Korir

The Ministry of Health is to draw up new burial protocols after observing that bodies of people who have died from Covid-19 do not transmit the virus. The revision of guidelines is expected to enable family members to bury their kin in a dignified manner.

According to its daily Ministry of Health Covid-19 Situation Report of September 4, 2020, the main mode of transmission of Covid-19 is via droplets, hence, the family members need to observe basic infection prevention and control and be allowed to participate in a dignified burial for their departed.

“On infection prevention and control protocols on the handling of Covid-19 bodies and burials, it was noted that the main mode of transmission for Covid-19 is through droplets.” read the report in part.

The ministry admits that the current burial practices under Covid-19 containment measures have been inappropriate and caused psychological trauma to families.

Kenyans have been witnessing bizarre and traumatic burials following the deaths of persons suspected or confirmed to have Covid-19.

In April, a KPA employee, 59-year-old James Oyugi was hurriedly buried in the dead of the night when his body was unceremoniously thrown into the shallow grave sparking outcry across the country.

“Covid- 19 burial SoPs have been revised to address rational use of PPEs and body handling,” the report added.

So far, Kenya has recorded 597 deaths out of the over 35,000 cases detected in the country.

The drop in cases

The Ministry has also observed a drop in the number of inpatient and ICU admissions in various hospitals. As at the time of the report on September 4, KU Teaching and Referral Hospital had 24 confirmed patients, and 20 suspected to have the virus.

These numbers, compared to the previous month of August which had 100 was a drastic drop in cases. Tigoni Covid Hospital which had 70 patients the previous month only had six patients admitted.

The Ministry attributes this drop in numbers to Home-Based Care where those that have no or mild symptoms of Covid-19 are being managed at home.

The other reasons are a reduction in the number of people being tested due to a shortage of testing kits in addition to a change in the testing strategy where only people who are symptomatic, in hospital, prisons and healthcare workers are being tested.

In the report, the Ministry admits that it is also unable to track all contacts of cases “and due to Home Based Care, not all cases are captured since many patients now opt to stay at home and may not be a captured (missed cases).”

Kenya’s Covid-19 infection positivity rate in the last week has been at five per cent, right at the recommended WHO mark that should indicate that a country is succeeding in the containment of the disease. On average, the positivity rate has been at 7.6 per cent.

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