Kenya: Meru to Open Its Largest Isolation Centre as Covid-19 Cases Surge

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe giving updates on the status of Covid-19 in the country on October 18, 2020 at Afya House in Nairobi.
21 October 2020

Meru County is mulling activating its biggest isolation facility at Igoji Meru Youth Service Training Centre following a spike in reported cases of Covid-19 in the last two months.

This comes two days after Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe warned of a second wave of infections amid recklessness by politicians and the youth in adhering to Covid-19 containment protocols.

Meru County health officials Wednesday raised concern that residents have thrown caution to the wind, leading to trippling of cases since September 1.

According to health chief officer Dr James Kirimi, they were considering using the 160-bed isolation unit in Igoji as Meru Teaching and Referral Hospital and Mboroga Health Centre were full to capacity.

This week, the county also had the first patient taken to the intensive care unit after developing breathing difficulties.

According to data from the health department, there were 123 active Covid-19 cases, with 235 people having tested positive since the pandemic was reported in the country.

"We are now considering taking patients to Igoji because we have 43 in isolation. About 80 others are in homebased care. The rise in covid-19 cases over the last month is attributed to failure to observe hand washing, social distancing and wearing of masks," Dr Kirimi said.

However, he said they may open the Nyambene Level Four Hospital and Maua Methodist Hospital isolation units which have a capacity of more than 70 beds.

Meru public health director John Inanga said cases of Covid-19 have shot up from 79 at the end of August to 235 on October 19, pointing to a worrying infection trajectory.

Dr Inanga cited political rallies, social gatherings and markets as the key drivers of the community transmission in the last two months.

North Imenti, which hosts the county headquarters, has the highest number of reported positive cases at 93, Imenti Central 31, Igembe South 29, Buuri 21, Igembe North 19, Igembe Central 17, Imenti South 14, Tigania West 6 and Tigania East 4.

"We have seen a rise in meetings being held without adherence to health protocols. Politicians are holding meetings without masks and this has motivated more residents to drop their guard. If we are to manage the numbers, all Kenyans must stick to hand washing and wearing of masks," Dr Inanga said.

He praised places of worship for adhering to health guidelines, saying this has helped manage the spread of the disease.

"By last week, we had visited 400 churches and only 13 were found to be wanting. They were advised on what to do or face closure. So far, social joints like bars as well as markets are the biggest threat to containment of Covid-19," he said.

About 3,111 people have been tested for Covid-19 in Meru with eight succumbing to the disease as of October 19.

According to the Controller of Budget report for the 2019/2020 financial year, Meru allocated more than Sh274 million to prevention and management of Covid-19.

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