Kenya: Isiolo Officials Accused of Leaking Photos, Biodata of COVID-19 Patient

A trader in Isiolo, who was the first confirmed Covid-19 case in the county, had just been moved to Garbatulla hospital for isolation centre on May 7 when a photo of him started trending online.

The photo showing the 62-year-old businessman with two health workers in protective gears circulated on various social media platforms sparking mixed reactions from local leaders and residents.

The picture was accompanied with his personal details including name, mobile number and identity card number which he had earlier shared with police.

"I was so shocked when I saw the photo trending online that evening. My family and I were very disappointed," the trader said during an interview with the Nation.

It is for this reason he intends to seek legal redress and sue the county government and the security team for the ordeal he says he went through after his image went viral.

The photo was reportedly taken by a public health officer.

Now, more than a month after he was discharged from the hospital after he was declared cured of Covid-19, the businessman says his family has faced continued stigmatisation by locals. He says this has his life and business.

The trader, who owns a wholesale store in Garbatulla and several buses plying the Maua-Garbatulla route, says customers have shunned his shop.

He adds that people are mistreating him in public places including hotels and lodges causing him emotional torture.

"I cannot even book a room or sit in a hotel to take some food because people leave whenever they see me. I feel like I am not wanted everywhere I go," he said.

He claimed, his daughter recently escaped a beating from a rowdy crowd in Maua town, who labbled her "the lady from a sick family".

She was rescued by her father's friend who took her to their home in Garbatulla.

Recently, Isiolo Senator Fatuma Dullo castigated the health workers who shared the man's pictures and demanded that action be taken against them for violating the trader's privacy.

Senate ad-hoc committee on Covid-19 chaired by Senator Johnson Sakaja during a recent tour in the county promised to look into the issue after a lobby narrated how the incident had affected the man's life.

The case presents a picture of stigmatisation that Covid-19 patients and those who have recovered go through in the entire country.

Isiolo Governor Mohamed Kuti condemned the sharing of the pictures and the patient's biodata details acknowledging that it had subjected him and the family to emotional torture.

"I want to apologise to the man and his family over the incident and appeal to all of us to be tolerant and sympathise with people who contract the virus and not castigating them," said Mr Kuti.

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