Kenya recorded 28 deaths from Covid-19 yesterday, laying bare the devastating effects the third wave of infections has on the country.
This was the highest number of deaths from the virus in one day since the first case was reported in Kenya in March last year.
The total number of coronavirus-related deaths in Kenya now stands at 1,982.
The Ministry of Health warned that more stringent measures such as lockdowns would return if Kenyans do not adhere to Covid-19 protocols.
Health Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Mercy Mwangangi (pictured) yesterday announced that 1,354 people had tested positive for Covid-19.
It was also confirmed that Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi had tested positive for the virus.
Dr Mwangangi said the number of patients in need of critical care had been increasing in recent days.
“By yesterday (Thursday), the number of patients admitted to our various Intensive Care Units (ICU) was 114.
“Today (Friday), the number has shot up to 123. Many of these are on supplemental oxygen. In fact, 148 of them are on oxygen support,” she said.
In Meru, Health Executive Misheck Mutuma said Murungi was in isolation. The diagnosis came more than a week since he was vaccinated against Covid-19.
“Our Governor Kiraitu Murungi has tested positive and we thank God that he is quite okay; he is doing well and he has been advised to go into self-isolation and will be back after a few days,” said Mutuma.
The governor joins the list of leaders who have made public their Covid-19 status.
ODM leader Raila Odinga tested positive for the disease over a week ago and spent at least four nights at the Nairobi Hospital.
Reports indicated yesterday that at least one other governor, three legislators and a top security officer were battling Covid-19 in various hospitals.
Other leaders who have contracted Covid-19 and publicly spoken about it include Government Spokesperson Cyrus Oguna, MPs Nickson Korir (Lang’ata), Moses Kuria (Gatundu), Anthony Kiai (Mukuruei-ni) and Dahir Duale (Dadaab).
Former Starehe MP and founder of Jesus Is Alive Ministries Bishop Margaret Wanjiru also contracted the virus last year.
In just a few weeks, the third wave of the disease has devastated families some of whom have had to endure the pain of losing loved ones.
Some families have lost more than one member as in the case of Dr Patricia Wawira Njuki, who died at Nairobi Hospital on March 13, just a day after her mother, Catherine Ngungi Njuki, died.
The media fraternity was thrown into mourning this week following the deaths of Royal Media Services head of radio Robin Njogu and former NTV anchor Winnie Mukami.
In Kisumu, Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o warned that the weekly rate of infection had reached 4.7 per cent from 2.5 per cent.
Yesterday, the Department of Immigration announced it was scaling down operations at passport processing offices starting Monday, March 22, in light of increasing cases of Covid-19.
Rift Valley regional commissioner George Natembeya also announced that burials would be conducted in the presence of a chief or an assistant chief.
The administrators will by default perform the roles of masters of ceremonies at the burials to ensure that families burying their loved ones adhere to Covid-19 protocols.
Natembeya said this would ensure full compliance with the Ministry of Health measures amid the rising number of infections in the region.
“Henceforth, chiefs and their assistants shall be the MCs during burial ceremonies to ensure they are brief and the number of attendees is capped at 100. No unnecessary speech shall not be allowed,” he said in Nakuru.
Yesterday’s number of Covid-19 infections was from a sample of 7,732, bringing the total number of those infected to 118,889.
Yesterday’s cases consisted of 1,301 Kenyans and 53 foreigners. Nairobi led with 717 cases while Nakuru recorded 174.
“The rising cases is an indication that we have lowered our guard and thrown caution to the wind. Since we have already warned the country there’s a third wave, we need to go back to the basics in our response to the Covid-19 as set out by the Ministry of Health,” said Mwangagi.
She warned that should Kenyans continue flouting the guidelines, then the country would go back to “more stringent measures.
“We have seen situations in other countries where complete lockdowns have started being effected again and I’m sure most of you would not want to see a return to more stringent measures. However, this is very likely to happen should the situation not improve. We owe it to ourselves to do what is right to ensure that our lives are not disrupted,” said Mwangagi.
In yet the clearest indicator that the third wave of Covid-19 infections is lethal, the CAS announced that Health CS Mutahi Kagwe had requested that Kenya alters its vaccination priority list to cover the elderly (people aged more than 60 years). They will be vaccinated in the next phase in April.
As of yesterday, the ministry had vaccinated 28,255 healthcare workers, teachers and security personnel.
The Health ministry was also concerned that the positivity rate had gone up in the counties. On January 20, for instance, 17 counties had reported a rise in the number of positive cases. As of yesterday, that number had more than doubled to 38.
“Many of those contracting the virus are not getting it from outsiders but from members of their communities. We must avoid all forms of gatherings, follow to the letter the various restrictions announced by the president last week,” said Mwangangi.
She said none of the essential workers seeking to be vaccinated against Covid-19 should be turned away.
“They can be vaccinated anywhere the exercise is being carried out as long they present identification documents. None of them should be turned away at any centre as long as they can identify themselves,” she said. “We have noted that a lot of enthusiasm among Kenyans to get vaccinated.”