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Young population, containment rules avert virus doom

Health & Science - By Mercy Adhiambo | September 29th 2020 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300

Dr Loice Ombajo, head of infectious disease unit at Kenyatta National Hospital during the National Covid-19 Conference at KICC, Nairobi, yesterday. [David Njaaga, Standard]

A young population, early intervention and God are what saved the country from the anticipated devastation and massive deaths from coronavirus.

During the National Covid-19 Conference at KICC, Nairobi, yesterday, stakeholders acknowledged that despite the mistakes made in containing the virus, the country has performed better than they anticipated.

“We were afraid…we had seen devastating news of how people were dying in other countries. Initial modelling showed we would follow an almost similar trajectory. May be God loves us more than everyone else,” said Dr Loice Ombajo, head of infectious disease unit at Kenyatta National Hospital who was in the health response panel at the meeting.

She said what saved the situation was that Kenya has a mean age of 20, making the population more likely to fight the disease and be asymptomatic.

Ombajo pointed out that suspending international flights as soon as the first Covid-19 case was recorded, and setting up quarantine centres for returnees played a major role in reducing the infection rate.

The meeting reviewed the progress medics, government and other stakeholders have made in the fight against coronavirus.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said the disease has awakened the country to the importance of having well-equipped medical facilities.

Mr Kagwe noted that in March, there were few testing facilities, but the government has since established 38 laboratories in 12 counties.

The CS regretted that 16 health workers have succumbed to the virus and promised that the process of getting medics insured when dealing with infectious diseases is under way.

He noted that there is a special isolation ward at Kenyatta National Hospital for health workers who contract the virus.

Isiolo Governor Mohammed Kuti said the upside of the virus is that it has made counties to increase investment in health infrastructure.

Dr Ombajo said they have noted a sharp decline in the number of people getting cholera, which was initially a challenge for the infectious disease unit. She attributed this to frequent washing of hands and eating at home as the public observed containment measures to stop the spread of the virus.

The giving spirit of Kenyans was illuminated in the pandemic. Jane Karuku, Chair Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund Board, said they still get calls from Kenyans wishing to donate or volunteer in funds drives.

The board dedicated Sh1.5 billion to purchase PPEs, Sh2.6 million to buy masks for the community and Sh400 million to support the needy who were receiving Sh1,000 per week.

Treasury Principal Secretary Julius Muia said they mobilised Sh134 billion for Covid-19 response. The money was sourced from the World Bank, Africa Development Bank, IMF and Danida. The PS disclosed that they still have Sh40 billion left from the money raised.

On Covid-19 funds scandal, Attorney General Kihara Kariuki said 52 people had recorded statements and those found guilty will be prosecuted. More than 78 companies are also under investigation.

“I must emphasise that people will be prosecuted, arising from what has happened at Kemsa,” he said.

Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya called for protocols to guide the expenditure of Covid-19 funds in the counties.


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