Kenya: Team Calls for Tough Measures in 4 Counties to Check COVID-19

The government needs to immediately implement drastic measures in four counties to halt the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

If not, a report by a team of health experts has revealed that the virus will spread exponentially.

The Kenya Covid-19 Technical Task Force has singled out Nairobi, Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale counties as hotspots.

It has recommended a raft of measures ranging from restrictions on movement to rolling out mass testing for all contacts including those without symptoms.

TESTED POSITIVE

The team has advised the Ministry of Health to begin tracing and testing everybody who has come into contact with a person who has tested positive for the highly contagious disease.

It has also advised that all travel out of Nairobi should be banned.

In Kilifi, Mombasa and Kwale counties where confirmed cases have had multiple contacts, the team calls for immediate testing for everyone who has had contact with a confirmed case including those who do not exhibit symptoms.

News about the rising number of cases has sent panic waves with many fleeing the capital city to the rural areas.

Experts have warned that these people could unknowingly be carrying the disease with them, putting village folk, especially the elderly, at risk.

In an advisory report, the experts drawn from the disease surveillance, infectious diseases and zoonotic departments have said that, should the government fail to implement these measures, the cases will grow to 1,000 in just two weeks.

5,000 CASES

In a worst-case scenario, the team estimates that the country will get to 5,000 cases by mid-April and 10,000 by end of April.

"However, in view of the recent directives on social distancing, travel restrictions and mandatory quarantine as well as other public health measures, there may be a delay in reaching the first 1,000 cases," the report exclusively seen by Nation reads. To avoid this scenario, the team issued new guidance like immediate restriction of all movement to other counties from Kilifi, Mombasa and Kwale and tracking of everyone who has travelled into the country in the last 21 days for screening and testing.

"Positive cases should be isolated and negative cases should ensure quarantine for at least 14 days from time of exposure," reads the report.

The country currently has 42 confirmed cases, of which 2,050 have been placed in mandatory quarantine.

VIRUS TRAVELS

The disease is caused by a virus called Sars-CoV-2 whose outbreak started in Wuhan, China and has since infected more than 571, 678 people resulted in 26,494 deaths globally.

While many of the initial cases in the country have been reported among returning travellers and their close contacts, the team has now warned that there are some cases of community transmission in Nairobi meaning that the virus could be even ore widespread in the capital.

Because the virus travels through droplets, community transmission is high because the disease can be easily transmitted from person to person without their knowledge.

'International flights'

Covid-19 is transmitted when someone comes in close contact (within one metre) with an infected person.

MEDICAL CARE

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), transmission can occur through direct contact with infected people or indirect contact with surfaces or objects in the immediate environment used by or on the infected person.

The team also wants all airline crew and accompanying flight engineers who have operated local and international flights within the last 21 days to be tested, while those who arrived within the last three weeks to be quarantined for at least 21 days from time of entry or contact with positive cases.

"Crew on self-quarantine should not operate any flights. Those that are positive should be isolated and managed as per the case management guidelines. Those that are negative should continue the quarantine until 14 days," the document says.

The experts also recommend that measures to ensure that patients seeking medical care for other diseases unrelated to Covid-19 are managed.

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