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Covid-19: Health crisis looms in Western counties as more medics test positive

Health & Science - By John Shilitsa and Nathan Ochunge | October 27th 2020 at 04:35:00 GMT +0300

Four counties in Western are facing a major health crisis following a spike in new Covid-19 infections with medics reported to be most affected.

Kakamega, Vihiga and Bungoma have posted increased new cases of infection in the recent past.

So far, over 40 frontline health workers in Kakamega county have tested positive for Covid-19 in last seven days.

A senior doctor at the Kakamega County General Hospital (KCGH) indicated that the numbers could be even higher following mass testing targeting mainly the health workers.

Covid 19 Time Series

 

“Already 40 of them have been confirmed positive after the mass testing, others are waiting for their results,” said Dr Antony Akoto, the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) Western branch.

A majority of them, comprising of doctors, nurses and clinical officers are from the Kakamega County Teaching and Referral hospital.

Dr Akoto said most of the medics were exposed to Covid-19 because of their frequent interaction with the patients, inadequate supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and in some instances, the healthcare workers are compelled to recycle masks.

He said there were isolation facilities set aside for doctors who test positive to Covid-19 and they are forced to share isolation rooms earmarked for Covid-19 patients.

“Our NHIF contributions have not been updated, our colleagues who fall ill are forced to pay from their pocket at the hospitals,” argued Dr Akoto.

When contacted, the County Health Executive Collins Matemba denied reports that 40 medics had been infected.

“It is not true, otherwise the facility would have shut down,” argued Mr Matemba. He said the county government was recruiting the extra staff on locum to help deal with increasing infections.

According to Matemba, the county has 65 Covid-19 patients in its isolation facilities with Mumias having 54, followed by Likuyani which has eight patients and KCGH had three in last 24 hours.

The CEC indicated that some top county officials, including two senior officers, were among Covid-19 patients currently receiving treatment.

Matemba cited difficulties in contact tracing, stigma and complacency among the people as a major hindrance in containing further infections. “People are disregarding Covid-19 protocols while some victims fear testing as a result of stigma.”

Apart from St Peters Boys in Mumias, where at least three cases have been confirmed, Matemba said no other school in the county has been affected.

Kakamega Assembly has also suspended sittings for two weeks to pave way for mass testing for Ward representative on Thursday.

In Vihiga, at least 17 healthcare workers have tested positive for Covid-19.

The county health executive Dr Amos Kutwa told Standard Digital that they fear the numbers could shoot up in coming days.

“This is an occupational risk for the medics who are our frontline soldiers fighting to curb the spread of the virus in the county. We have collected more samples from the healthcare team particularly those who came into contact with those infected,” said Dr Kutwa.

The Webuye county hospital isolation centre in Bungoma is unable to accommodate more patients due to lack of space.

Vihiga County has so far 60 confirmed Covid-19 cases according to Dr Kutwa.

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