While coronavirus cases were increasing predominantly in China, What was Kenya doing? In this article, I am going to take you through press release summaries from the ministry of health from 20th January when screening started until when the first case was confirmed.
Earlier on, Primary tests were being taken in Kenya while confirmatory tests were done in South Africa on suspected individuals.
The Ministry wishes to advise members of the public to remain vigilant and to: i. Maintain basic hand and respiratory hygiene, and safe food practices. ii. Avoid close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections. iii. In addition, anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as fever, coughing, difficulty in breathing and sneezing with a history of recent travel to China is advised to go to the nearest health facility for assessment and prompt management.2nd Feb Update
By Feb 3, The Ministry deployed additional staff at JKIA and other Ports of Entry to support heightened surveillance and screening, continued with trainings of front line health workers in both public and private health facilities as well as ports of entry countrywide and all incoming travellers at JKIA and other Ports of entry screened.
- 5th Feb
- By 13th February, The surveillance system had picked 7 suspected cases that turned out negative.
Further, the Government has put in place the following interventions:
- Governance: Ongoing whole government and multi-agency approach, at two levels (policy and technical). Ministries, departments and agencies have been brought on board to deal with the threat of COVID-19.
- Diagnostic Capacity: The Government of Kenya through the Ministry of Health has the necessary capacity for in – country testing.
- Screening: Ongoing mandatory screening in all points of entry including Mombasa sea port to minimize the risk of importation of the virus from affected countries. A total of 99706 travellers have been screened across various points of entry since 20th January 2020 to 10th February 2020.
- Human Resources: 400 health workers in both public and private health facilities and at points of entry have been sensitised on how to deal with suspected cases. Additional health workers have been deployed at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).
- Isolation/ Quarantine Facilities: The isolation facility at Kenyatta National Hospital continues to be used to isolate suspected cases while they undergo investigation. The National Government has taken over a new ward with capacity of 120 beds at Mbagathi District Hospital to increase isolation capacity. Further, all the points of entry have isolation/holding facilities and prepositioned personal protective equipment.
On 14th February, Kenyans received a Valentines gift after the Ministry announced that Kenya now has in-country capacity at National Influenza Centre and KEMRI laboratories to test suspected cases of COVID-19.
19th February, the following measures were put in place to safeguard public health safety:
- A multi-agency approach, at two levels (policy and technical) involving relevant Ministries, departments and agencies to deal with the threat of COVID-19.
- A National Contingency Plan to guide implementation of priority preparedness and response activities in view of the potential threat posed by importation of COVID-19 into Kenya.
- Activation of Emergency Operations Centre that is closely monitoring the evolution of the outbreak in China and the rest of the world. In addition, trained rapid response teams are on standby to investigate any alert in – country.
- In-country diagnostic capacity at the National Influenza Centre and KEMRI laboratories to test suspected cases of COVID-19.
- Mandatory screening at all points of entry to minimize the risk of importation of the virus from affected countries
- Sensitisation of health workers in both public and private health facilities and at points of entry on how to deal with suspected cases. Five hundred (500) health care workers have a been trained and additional health workers have been deployed at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).
- Isolation facilities have been set up at Kenyatta National Hospital and Mbagathi District Hospital to be used to isolate suspected cases. There have been consultations with the private health facilities within Nairobi City to support the provision of additional isolation facilities in the event that the country reports more cases than the capacity at Kenyatta National Hospital.
- Procurement of additional 5,000 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) with support from USAID
As of 26th February 2020, when Kenya was still coronavirus free, globally 81109 confirmed cases and 2762 deaths have been reported
in China and 37 other countries. By 27th February, there were 17 alerts that were confirmed to be negative after testing. On 4rd March, the national response committee on coronavirus, established on 28th February by the president of Kenya, met with the chairman, Hon Mutahi Kagwe giving directions on how to sensitive the public on coronavirus using different media and how the country will deal with the virus once reported in the country.
About one thousand one hundred (1100) health care workers have been trained and additional health workers have been deployed at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA). Procurement of additional 5,000 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) with support from USAID. Following a consultative meeting with the Council of Governors, each county was with an initial 25 kits.
On top of the three measure, On 6th March;
- The Government has temporarily lifted the ban on Italian flights to Kenya, but only to pick Italian Citizens who are currently stranded in Malindi. The flight(s) will only contain their cabin crew, who WILL NOT disembark while the passengers are being picked.
- The Government has, with IMMEDIATE EFFECT banned all meetings, conferences and events of international nature in Kenya
- The Government has issued a travel advisory to all Kenyans to avoid nonessential travel to high-risk countries for conferences/meetings or events where more than 15 people would be gathering
- The Ministry of Health is engaging Kenyans citizens, sector by sector, in the management of both personal and public hygiene. a. In conjunction with the Ministry of Transport, MoH is engaging the public transport sector- Matatus, Bodabodas and Buses, to practice proper hygiene b. In conjunction with the Ministries of Trade and Finance, MoH is engaging the Business community on how best to mitigate challenges to the sector owing to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak
- The County governments, through their respective governors, have been tasked to ensure that necessary isolation wards in all Level 4 and 5 Hospitals are set up and ready for use by 15th March 2020 a. Additionally, the National Government has rolled out support to counties by providing and sending an extra 5000 workers, while mobilizing mobile clinics for faster response to any anticipated public health emergency, especially the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak
- The MoH is also exploring the possibility of utilizing Kenyatta University Teaching Referral and Research Hospital to offer additional capacity for isolation and management of COVID-19 cases
First case confirmed on 12th March 2020 in Kenya, about two months after confirmation of the first human transmission by WHO. All this while since 3rd February, there were hotline numbers to report suspected cases, 0800721316, 0732353535, 0729471414.
I am a Scientist and a Journalist who loves communicating science to the public.
Personal Website: Sarahnyancheranyakeri.co.ke ( http://sarahnyancheranyakeri.co.ke/)