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Nine counties declared hot spots as hospitals experience scarcity of beds

NATIONAL
By Hudson Gumbihi | July 31st 2021

Governor Ali Roba when he inspected the spaces for Covid-19 patients.[Standard]

A red flag has been raised following a sharp increase in Covid-19 infections, with nine counties being the latest hotspots.

In the new wave of the Delta variant, Kiambu, Kajiado, Lamu, Makueni, Murangá, Nairobi, Nyandarua, Tana River and Taveta Taita have witnessed a surge in infections.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe yesterday explained that cases have gone up and health experts are projecting the situation might get worse should people fail to strictly observe containment measures.

In Nairobi for instance, there are no beds for Covid-19 patients.  

Most hospitals have run out of oxygen cylinders and they will now have to install oxygen plants and fix pipes to the wards.

“It is no longer viable for hospitals to have cylinders. I have instructed them to do piping so that the much-needed oxygen can be supplied to patients without delay,” said Kagwe.

The CS added, “As we speak, 45 patients are on oxygen, 175 are in ICUs while 1,432 have been hospitalised. Some 4,000 are on home-based care,” said Kagwe at Harambee House, where he was accompanied by Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua and Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai.

Kagwe disclosed that efforts are being made to increase bed capacity at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH), Nairobi Hospital and Kenyatta University Referral and Research Hospital. “The situation is bad, our major health facilities in Nairobi are overwhelmed, there are no beds for Covid patients,” said Kagwe.

To further buttress the fight against the virus, Kagwe also directed Kenya Medical Supplies Authority to release Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to all counties including those who still owe them money arising from past deliveries.

Kagwe raised the red alert after chairing the National Emergency and Responses Committee on Coronavirus (NERCC), which resolved a review of containment measures.

The Delta variant is becoming dominant in the nine counties experiencing an increase in infections. As a result, NERCC reviewed some of the containment measures, which Kagwe maintained must be adhered to.

Consequently, the government ordered that all public gatherings and in-person meetings be suspended, while politicians were warned against holding rallies.

“All political gatherings according to Ministry of Health protocols are banned. Police commanders and officers will enforce compliance. Keep yourself safe from the virus and police,” warned Mutyambai.

Congregations in places of worship will have to be conducted as per the guidelines of the Inter-Faith Council protocols. “In-person worship should be limited to a third of the capacity of the venue in strict adherence with guidelines and protocols,” said Kagwe, adding the same applies to restaurants and eateries.

The nationwide curfew will remain from 10pm to 4am with employers being urged to let staff work from home.

“All employers including public and private sector, government offices, businesses and companies be directed to allow employees to work from home, except for employees working in critical or essential services, until further notice,” said Kagwe.

The CS also instructed the devolved governments to put in place adequate infrastructure just in case the country is overwhelmed.

“The counties are also urged to actively ramp up the necessary infrastructure, including critical care facilities, isolation centres, increased human resource and testing capacity,” said the CS.

CS Health Mutahi Kagwe. July 30, 2021. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

On a positive note, however, Kagwe said there has been a marked decrease in the number of severe cases in hotspot counties of Nyanza and Western, where containment measures were tightened following a spike a few weeks ago.

The CS said since Covid-19 is not a health matter, relevant sectors like trade, transport, education, interior, sports, tourism and religion shall be involved in defining necessary enforcement measures.

Kagwe allayed fears of closure of schools due to the increase of Covid19 cases, assuring that adequate measures have been put in place to ensure no disruption of learning activities.

“The current evidence and data do not reflect an increase in cases among learning institutions. Indeed, morbidity and mortality among school-going children have been low,” said Kagwe. He urged teachers who have not been vaccinated to do so.

Health workers were directed to use the recently revised Ministry of Health National Guidelines for case management of suspected or confirmed Covid-19 patients.

“Kenyans are strongly advised against self-medication and use of over the counter medicines for the treatment of respiratory tract infections, but to seek medical attention,” urged Kagwe.

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