A mechanic who works at a leading garage in Mandera town is admitted to the county's referral hospital isolation ward after exhibiting coronavirus-like symptoms.
The mechanic is said to have arrived in Mandera from Nairobi on Monday and upon screening at a local airstrip, he recorded a body temperature of 39 degrees.
"We already have one patient in our ward under observation. He travelled to Mandera from Nairobi two days ago. It was observed that he had a high temperature of 39 degrees which prompted the health personnel at the airstrip to pick and admit him at the isolation ward," Governor Ali Roba said Wednesday evening.
Mr Roba said samples from the patient have been taken and sent to Nairobi for testing.
"As at now, other than the high fever, the medical personnel have not reported any other signs that conform to Covid-19. However, because we are not going to take chances, this patient is under isolation and is being managed at the hospital as we wait for the test results from Nairobi," he said.
The Mandera governor said a manifest from the flight on which the patient travelled is in their possession to help trace other passengers in case the results turn out positive.
"We have the manifest which we will use to trace other people who were on that plane just in case the test turns positive," he said.
The county boss admitted that his health department is experiencing challenges, adding that the levels of preparedness are not that good.
"We have a major gap which is not only applicable to Mandera but to many counties. That gap is lack of testing capacity to be able to identify whether or not the patients we suspect are Covid-19 positive," he said.
Mr Roba decried the long distances samples have to be taken for testing as his county lacks the capacity.
"The nearest testing facility is 1,200 kilometres in Nairobi and the turnaround takes quite a bit of time which is a challenge for us," he said.
At least 12,024 people have been screened in Mandera County in the past three weeks according to Governor Roba.
"Since the start of our response measures, Mandera County health workers have screened 2,924 passengers who arrived by flight, 2309 travellers who arrived by road and 6,791 people at our internal border crossing points," he said.
He said there are fears that the porous borders with both Somalia and Ethiopia will expose the county to the pandemic.
There are only 10 ventilators in Mandera, less than 100 personal protective equipment (PPEs) and less than 200 certified masks according to records at the department of health.
"The sad part is that, while we are ready to purchase ventilators as well as certified masks and PPEs, there are no selling facilities in the country. We are entirely dependent upon the distribution through Kemsa and the national government procurement system and other well-wishers who have responded to the appeal by the national government to see if something will trickle down to us," said Mr Roba.
He said Mandera is fairly prepared despite the challenges.
"I can confidently say that we have infrastructure in place but we require support in terms of additional beds, ventilators, personal protective equipment, patient monitors, and most importantly health workers. Our ICU and HDU require consultant physicians and more nurses to help contain the spread of the coronavirus," he said.
With a 14-bed capacity, Mandera County Referral Hospital (MCRH) remains the nerve centre of the coronavirus response in the region.
"The initial facility with a 14-bed capacity at the county referral hospital is our first line of response. Though we have other gaps in terms of bed, space and availability of oxygen, the facility is ready," he said.
Other identified facilities that are being developed include a rehabilitation centre with a 64-bed capacity in Mandera town and Kamor Dispensary centre with a 47-bed capacity.
Currently, Mandera has six fully equipped ICU beds and other two fully equipped HDU facilities.
There are only eight trained ICU nurses at the county referral facility and six others at Elwak Level Four Hospital.
"As part of our preparedness for Covid-19, we targets to have at least 335 beds ready in identified isolation wards and quarantine facilities across the county. So far we have six ventilators at the MCRH and four at Elwak accident and emergency centre in Mandera South Sub-County," revealed Mr Roba.
He added that local boarding schools are readily available as advised by the national government in case the situation gets out of hand.