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Expected surge in infections with full Alupe isolation centre

By Ignatius Odanga | June 18th 2020
The gate to Alupe isolation centre in Busia county that is full of sick drivers. [Ignatius Odanga, Standard]

The County’s Covid-19 response team has warned of a sharp increase in coronavirus infections in Busia.

According to David Mukabi, who is leading the technical team fighting the virus in the county, more community infections are expected because truck drivers, who have been identified by the Ministry of Health as the weakest link in the fight against the virus, have been interacting with locals at Busia and Malaba borders.

Already, the county’s only isolation centre-Alupe Sub-County Hospital is filled with truck drivers nursing Covid-19.

To determine the level of community infections, the county has partnered with Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare (Ampath) to roll out mass testing in the region.

Dr Mukabi, who is also the county’s director of Universal Healthcare, told The Standard mass testing would target Busia and Malaba, the virus’ hot spots.

“The objective is to establish the spread of the disease in the region. We are anticipating widespread community infections because of the truck drivers,” he said.

The county launched mass testing for truck drivers in March. As of Tuesday, the total number of recorded positive cases in the county stood at 323.

Third worst

The figure put Busia as the third worst hit county in the country after Nairobi and Mombasa cities.

The Health ministry flagged Busia from the onset as one of the counties at risk of recording many cases of Coronavirus due to its proximity to the Kenya and Uganda border.

The leadership of the county is now burning midnight oil to figure out where to take rising number of coronavirus patients.

In March, Governor Sospeter Ojaamong’s administration settled for Alupe Sub-county Hospital situated in Teso South. Other medical services at the hospital were then suspended.

Health department Chief Officer Isaac Omeri said his team had identified St Monica Chakol Secondary School and Busia Agricultural Training Centre (ATC) as potential isolation facilities.

Chakol can accommodate at least 200 patients, but the county has not equipped it with the requisite equipment.

Busia ATC has only 44 beds.

Omeri was categorical that only symptomatic patients would be taken to the ATC, adding that the county did not have adequate resources to set up more isolation facilities.

“We shall work with what we have. The county would like to equip identified isolation centres, but limited resources are holding us back,” he said.

The county has less than one month to ensure it has a minimum of 300 beds in its isolation centres.

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