More coronavirus variants detected in Kisumu, says officer

Health CS Mutahi Kagwe (left) consults Kisumu County Governor Anyang' Nyong'o during Covid-19 briefing in Kisumu on August 9, 2020. (Denish Ochieng, Standard)

More variants of Covid-19 have been detected in Kisumu even as the county government ordered mortuaries to dispose of all bodies in their custodies to curb their spread.

Health Executive Boaz Nyunya said the government carried out gene sequencing from 28 samples out of which the Indian variant was found to be the most prevalent form of the virus, at 71.8 per cent.

Gene sequencing is the process used to determine the genetic makeup of a virus.

Six more samples were found to have the UK variant and one had both the Indian and V117 variants, which according to Nyunya, is a rare occurrence.

One sample had a South African variant, Nyunya said.

“These variants were detected from people who were suspected to have had contact with Covid-19 patients, especially those suspected to have the Indian variant,” the official said on Friday.

He said once the virus enters the community, it spreads rapidly, especially if individuals are not taking precautions.

“We did not look at all the positive cases, unless we suspected a patient had contact with a given unique variant,” Nyunya said, noting most of the Indian variants were found in Kibos and Kisumu Central.

Nyunya also ordered mortuaries in Kisumu to dispose of all bodies in their custodies within 48 hours failure to which the county government will obtain a court order and bury them in mass graves.

The Health executive said there were 212 bodies in public and private mortuaries.

In a statement, Nyunya said the bodies should be released for burial or declared unclaimed.

The order follows increased cases of coronavirus in Kisumu that has left hospitals and mortuaries overwhelmed.

Nyunya directed managements of mortuaries not to accept any bodies from outside their hospitals except police cases.

“Mortuaries failing to adhere to the directive will have their licenses cancelled,” Nyunya said.

He also ordered for the closure of livestock auction markets and Bar Korwa open-air market.

Nyunya said 139 people have died from Covid-19 in Kisumu since March last year.

The county has 687 active Covid-19 cases with the positivity rate 28 per cent.

Some 32,000 people have been vaccinated against the virus in Kisumu.

Nyunya said the county was considering advising the national government to lock down Kisumu County if the Covid-19 cases continue surging.

A crackdown has been launched in the county to arrest those flouting Covid-19 regulations.

The county has scaled up screening after receiving 6,000 testing kits from Ministry of Health.