Kenya: Counties Scramble to Set Up Isolation Wards for COVID-19

The counties' struggling healthcare system is bracing itself for the Covid-19 outbreak.

Governors are sprucing up unused buildings, dilapidated wards and maternity wings as they scramble to establish isolation units.

From refurbishing hospital rooms to equipping maternity and high dependency units with beds, the 47 devolved units are struggling to put together 'isolation wards'.

In Coast, save for Mombasa -- which has the region's only referral hospital with an intensive care unit -- the other county hospitals only have rooms marked as 'isolation wards' with no capacity to handle Covid-19 cases.

"We agreed that every county must set aside funds and put in place a committee to handle Covid-19. The national government has agreed to support us in handling the situation," said the Council of Governors chairman Wycliffe Oparanya.

Mombasa has converted the Ramtullah private wing at the Coast General Teaching and Referral Hospital as its main isolation unit with 19 beds.


In Lamu, they have designed their unit inside the King Fahad County Hospital -- it has eight rooms.

Taita Taveta is yet to set up isolation wards despite the county alleging that it had identified facilities in Voi, Taveta, Wundanyi and Mwatate.

In Tana River, a maternity wing has been converted into an isolation ward.

However, it had no furniture yesterday, with the Health Executive Javan Bonaya saying they were yet to receive adequate equipment for the ward.

In Kwale, a High Dependency Unit has been converted into an isolation ward at the Msambweni County Referral Hospital. Officials said other rooms have also been set up at Kinango, Kwale and Lunga Lunga hospitals.

In the Rift Valley, health officials have prepared for any cases although the government identified only 14 counties as high risk. In Nakuru, the Eye Unit at the Level 5 Hospital has been converted into isolation wards.


In Eldoret, the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital Chief Executive Officer Wilson Aruasa said they have 10 isolation beds. He added that 15 more beds will be ready by the end of the month.

At the Nandi Hills County Hospital, an isolation unit was being set up on Sunday. In West Pokot, two units are ready. In Bungoma, they are setting up a ward at the Webuye Hospital.

In Baringo, a ward is ready at the Kaptimbor dispensary on the outskirts of Kabarnet town.

In Trans Nzoia, Health Executive Claire Wanyama said a centre has been set up at the Kitale County Referral Hospital.

In Nyandarua, it was business as usual at the JM Memorial Hospital while at the Nyahururu County Referral Hospital, there was no isolation ward.

Meanwhile, 22 beds have been set aside at the North Kinangop Catholic, Engineer and JM Kariuki hospitals to handle any cases.

At the Naivasha Sub-county Hospital, the management is in the process of setting up a ward.


In Tharaka-Nithi, Chuka County Referral Hospital, Marimanti, Magutuni and Kibunga sub-county hospitals have isolation wards.

In Meru, the Level Five Hospital has a 20-bed isolation ward while Kirinyaga has two units in Sagana and Kerugoya hospitals.

In Nyeri, the Mt Kenya Level IV Hospital will be an isolation centre while Marsabit has three special wards.

In Siaya, the only isolation room identified at Bondo Referral is far from ready. In Kisumu, Governor Anyang' Nyong'o said the county has three isolation rooms at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral, the Kisumu County Hospital and Airport Health Centre.

Reporting by Winnie Atieno, Lucy Mkanyika, Fadhili Fredrick, Samuel Kalume, Stephen Oduor, Charles Lwanga, Alex Njeru, Irene Mugo, George Munene, David Muchui, Jacob Walter, Edith Chepgeno, Brian Ojamaa, Flora Koech, Gerald Bwisa, Oscar Kakai, Francis Mureith, Steve Njuguna, Waikwa Maina, Macharia Mwangi, Shaban Makokha, Dickens Wasonga, Elizabeth Ojina, Ian Byron, George Odiwuor, Derrick Luvega, Benson Ayienda, Ondari Ogega and Justus Ochieng'

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