Kenya has put in place measures that developed countries took too long to implement in combating COVID-19

By Anthony Thuothuo

The Kenya Ministry of Health crew that conducted fumigation at the apartment where patient zero resided. [Photo: MOH]

One day after the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Kenya, the ministry of health has enhanced operations across the country in response to the matter. Among other measures, the Public Health Emergency Operation Centre has been fully activated to coordinate response efforts.

A call centre has also been set up to enhance communication on COVID-19. Members of the public are asked to reach out by dialling 719 for audio messages or *719# for short messages. This will apply across all networks. “Let us not panic but observe the preventive measures outlined by the Ministry,” Said Dr Mwangangi.

Counties are also setting up localized hotlines where the public can get updated information. In Kiambu, the public can call 0700820227 and “the medical personnel will get to the suspected Coronavirus case” to minimize the risk of spreading the virus. Kiambu county has also set up isolation wards in a number of hospitals and trained personnel who will be in touch with the public in what to do. This is according to a report by the governor’s personal advisor Mr. John Mugwe.

The Ministry of Health has also traced 22 people who came into contact with Kenya’s first patient of COVID-19 and they have been quarantined at KNH Isolation Unit at Mbagathi. Twenty three other persons of mixed nationalities who travelled on the same flight with the patient have also been traced and advised to undertake self-quarantine for 14 days.

According to the Ministry’s medical officer Dr Mercy Mwangangi who has been giving press briefings on the matter, the apartment block where Kenya’s first patient resided has been sterilized/fumigated and the patient is said to be recovering well. “The patient is in a stable condition, with normal vital signs …We thank her for taking prompt action & seeking prompt health advice. And we wish other Kenyans will follow her example …”CAS Dr. Mwangangi.

The Ministry has also established two counselling centres, one at Kenyatta National Hospital, and another in Mbagathi, and deployed counsellors who are to take care of quarantined patients and their families.

The ministry of health in partnership with county governments, Kenya Red Cross, AMREF, WHO, The Wolrd Bank Group, KEPSA, UON, and Kenya Health Federation among other stakeholders will immediately start community engagement. AFREM will take the lead in mobilizing community health strategy in order to raise awareness across the country.

Additionally, Africa Nazarene University has suspended all its on-campus classes in Nairobi and its environs. In a statement, the university’s Vice-Chancellor Stanley Bhebhe said the decision was arrived at after a rapid coronavirus team mapped out Ongata Rongai as the contact place for a 27-year-old Kenyan lady who tested positive for coronavirus.

The Ministry of Health on Friday confirmed the first case of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) case in Nairobi. A Kenyan citizen who returned from the USA via London, United Kingdom on the 5th March 2020 was confirmed positive at National Influenza Centre (NIC) Labs.

The Kenya government has since ordered the closing of all schools and banned all public gatherings in efforts to contain the spread of the virus.

Developed countries like America have recently been criticized for how they have handled the outbreak. In the US, The Atlantic penned an article that reflected America as a failed state in relation to how slow and poor response by the government in combating the virus has been. After the first case of the virus was confirmed in Washington in January, America took little measures to contain the spread of the disease. President Trump called a press briefing and insisted that “the risk to Americans from the disease [remained] low”. This failed to portray the virus as the serious pandemic that it has turned out to be.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include the president’s order to close all schools in response to the outbreak.

Thuothuo is a Kenyan living in the USA, a cybersecurity professional from the University of Southern New Hampshire, and a Jamhuri News editor.