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Covid-19 stigma: School sends home children of man discharged from isolation centre

By Kevin Ogutu | June 21st 2021

A family in Homa Bay has borne the brunt of Covid-19 stigma after their children were chased from school.

The Sunday evening discharge of a 53-year-old Kisumu-based man from a Covid-19 isolation centre spelt doom for his family in Oyugis, Homa Bay County.

The businessman tested positive for Covid-19 soon after Madaraka Day celebrations held in Kisumu's Jomo Kenyatta International Stadium on June 1. He was immediately taken to the isolation centre at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (JOOTRH).

However, upon his discharge from the facility on Sunday after his condition improved with medics confident he was out of danger, his family chose to take him to his Kombaka village in Homa Bay for home-based care as advised by medics at JOOTRH.

"We were surprised that this morning his two children in lower primary school and eight others from the larger family were turned away by the headteacher at Kombaka Primary school because they have a Covid-19 patient in the family, yet it is doctors who had recommended his discharge from the isolation centre," said a close relative who is part of the team that took him home.

Kombaka Primary School headteacher John Nyandiko told The Standard that the school made the decision following concerns from parents who had got wind that the businessman was a Covid-19 patient and the fear that came with him interacting with his children, nieces and nephews.

"I consulted Kamagak North Location chief where the pupils come from and his Kagola Location counterpart where the school is situated and we were in agreement that it would be detrimental to allow the kids from the Mzee's family to interact with other pupils before public health officials give further direction," he said.

Kamagak North Chief Benson Nyandiko said he was aware of the matter and the decision the school had taken but downplayed stigma.

"This was a temporary measure since it was only last evening that the man interacted with his kids. Once we get clearance from Public Health officials, the kids should be allowed back to school," he said.

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