Delicate balance for MoH as Kibra Covid-19 cases surge

Written By: Margaret Kalekye


The country’s largest informal settlement Kibra remains on governments’ radar as Covid-19 cases continue to increase exponentially.

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In the latest figures released by the Ministry of Health, Nairobi still accounts for the highest number of cases with Kibra recording 16 new infections in the past 24 hours. Last week alone the area recorded over 80 cases with reports indicating the numbers may have hit 200.

However, the government is still contemplating whether to put the new Covid-19 epicentre under partial lockdown as it quickly did in Nairobi’s Eastleigh and Old Town in Mombasa when the numbers spiked.

The two areas were put under lockdown by Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe on May 6 after recording 58 and 67 cases, respectively.

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Health Chief Administrative Secretary Dr Rashid Aman Tuesday during the daily Covid-19 press briefing promised to deploy appropriate containment measures including a lockdown which he said was on the cards but cautioned that it was a delicate affair.

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“We are continuing to watch this epicentre within Kibra very closely informal settlements present unique challenges that we need to look at carefully. Lockdown is clearly on the table but when we feel the time is right, we have to assess and balance these things”, he said.

He said surveillance teams were on the ground working with communities to minimize movement in affected areas including identifying cluster areas with high transmissions.

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“It is possible that it may not be the entire Kibra but a few cluster areas that we are trying to identify. Once we have information and we feel the numbers have reached a point where particular measures must be taken, then we will”.

Social distancing

As of June 2, Kenya recorded 72 new cases pushing the national tally to 2093. So far 82,946 have been tested since the disease broke out in March 13.

Dr Aman cautions that we are not out of the woods yet as the disease remains a serious threat.

“The stage where we are in this fight requires that we remain focused and united because the battle will be long drawn. We need each other to defeat this disease by collectively adhering to the containment measures”.

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The government has rolled out mass testing in targeted areas particularly in densely populated areas which have become hotspots for the disease.

Mathare is the other informal settlement which has registered more cases, the highest being 33.

Last week Health Director-General Patrick Amoth admitted the challenges of enforcing preventive measures in informal settlements.

“It is practically difficult to ensure social distancing. The only measure left now is hygiene and use of masks,” said Dr Amoth.

Lack of access to clean water has played a role in the disease’s rapid spread in informal settlements.


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