Following the government directive calling for the closure of all institutions of learning by Friday this week, the Machakos Bus Park has been turned into a beehive of activities as droves of student’s flock to the place heading home.
A spot check by KNA revealed many Passenger Service Vehicles (PSV) operators have taken advantage of the influx of passengers to adjust their fares upwards.
For instance, PSV operators were charging Ksh 300 from Machakos to Nairobi up from Ksh.100.
Those travelling to Athi River from Machakos had to part with Ksh 250 up from the normal Ksh 100.
Dennis Muasya, a student from Muindi Mbingu Secondary School said they had been advised not to go to crowded places and parties to avoid contracting the disease but expressed fear that it might not be possible.
“We have been directed to sanitize our hands frequently and to avoid overcrowded Public Service Vehicles. But this seems not to be the case as matatu owners have not adhered to any of these simple directives. Everything is going like any other day before,” he said.
On her part, Faith Mukonyo from St Catherine Lema Girls School said her father had decided to pick her to avoid putting her daughter in danger associated with PSVs.
She said it was much safer to use private means as one can always take necessary precautions such as hand sanitation which PSV operators had apparently decided to overlook.
The County Government of Machakos has however set aside a total of Ksh100 million as part of mitigations measures aimed at combating the coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19).
The County Government has also assured its people of minimum interruptions in the daily operations of businesses in the area, however, it has cautioned employers to adhere to the recommended health standards to prevent the spread of the disease as outlined by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Addressing the press at his Mavoko Office, Machakos Governor, Dr Alfred Mutua, said among measures the County has taken to address the global health challenge include, training of 19 health workers and securing of modern PMS kits to test the deadly virus.
He added that the County Government is undertaking grassroots sensitization campaigns to ensure the public maintains highest levels of hygiene as a preventive measure against the disease which has infected a total of 197,942 people and killed 7,951 others across more than 50 countries.
China, which was the epicentre of the epidemic, has so far recorded the highest number of infections and deaths in a span of 70 days.
Dr Mutua at the same time directed all Public Service Operators (PSV) operators in the County to be disinfecting their vehicles after every four hours to help mitigate the spread of the raging virus.
He called upon the National Government to support Devolved Units in addressing the health scare by channelling financial assistance to them.
The Governor, however, explained that the Machakos Level Five Hospital is currently fully equipped to test any suspected Coronavirus in patients.
“Currently there is no reported Coronavirus case in the County, but in the event, there is one, we have ample kits to test the disease. The Cabinet has also approved Ksh 100 million for coronavirus emergency aid and also for paying out allowances for our medics. However, we are calling upon the National Government to extend support to counties as they are financially strained,” he added.
According to WHO official website, Coronaviruses (CoV) is a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, and cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
Standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include regular hand-washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs.
Other measures include avoiding close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.