The government on Monday stepped up the fight against Covid-19 with County governments expected to play a leading role in mitigating the rapid spread of the virus in their jurisdictions.
Health Cabinet secretary Mutahi Kagwe directed county national emergency response committees on COVID-19 co-chaired by governors and county commissioners to hold emergency meetings and immediately start considering county-specific surgical measures to curtail the spread of the virus in respective counties.
Announcing a raft of measures after a special meeting of the National Emergency Response Committee (NERC) to review, among other issues, the rise in COVID-19 deaths and cases in the country, the CS further directed the committees to forthwith assess the county status on oxygen and PPEs in addition to giving regular updates on the prevailing situation.
He, however, said the action plan will be guided by Covid-19 attack rate which differs across counties. Governors are expected to respond to any shortcomings and recommendations as the fight against the virus goes a notch higher.
Counties are battling a second wave of the pandemic that has claimed top county officials. Several county assemblies have been closed the latest being Murang’a and Kirinyaga county headquarters.
To ensure safety of health workers, governors are required to source for PPEs and other equipment from Kemsa at prevailing market prices.
Due to delay in disbursement of funds by Treasury, The council of governors will this week engage treasury to ensure speedy release of monies directly to Kemsa and NHIF to fast track supply of protective gears and insurance cover for health workers.
The CS described this month as the darkest period since the first case of the virus was reported in March with eight medical specialists having lost their lives.
“Any measures agreed upon must be effected after consultation with the Ministry of Health on protocols and guidelines, and the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of
National Government, for enforcement. Once agreed the announcement of the measures specific to counties are to be announced by the County NERC” added the CS.
He called for enforcement of Covid-19 protocols noting that burials, wedding and social functions were being abused stating that such meetings should not exceed 50 attendees.
“Gatherings have been widely abused. I am appealing to NGAO, the police and all enforcement agencies to be guided by the directives issued by His Excellency the President when he addressed the nation recently and enforce those directives without reservations” he appealed.
He added “It is in your interest not to attend weddings and funerals. Leave such gatherings to family members. Instead of attending a wedding, send a gift. Instead of attending a funeral, send your contribution”.
On the development of two vaccines offering 95pc protection by two US companies, the health CS said Kenyans will not be used as guinea pigs to test vaccines that are essentially not cleared for use by WHO, describing the discoveries and trials as a work in progress.
He said the health ministry in consultation with experts from Kenya research institute Kemri, was studying the vaccines including transport and storage challenges.
“We want a vaccine-like yesterday but we are also careful about these announcements. otherwise, we will fall prey to just commercial operations” he said.
The country’s Covid-19 caseload hit 70,804 on Monday after 559 people tested positive.