All health workers handling Covid-19 cases including those in private hospitals will be tested with immediate effect.
Health CS Mutahi Kagwe in his daily briefing Tuesday announced further measures including closure of all golf clubs and club houses. Caddies who he said are at a higher risk of contracting the virus will not be allowed into the clubs.
Open air sporting clubs with walking fields have been directed to observe social distancing and restrict numbers.Majority of walking clubs are in affluent neighborhoods.
“Open air sporting clubs with walking fields must observe social distancing. Managers of the walk in clubs must restrict numbers. Golf clubs have been abused and must closed with immediate effect. No candies allowed” the CS said.
The CS said they have embarked on mass testing in the four counties of Nairobi, Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale listed as red zones but health workers, rapid response teams and staff in all facilities holding quarantined persons will be prioritised for coronavirus testing.
“Mass testing is the next step in the four counties but we are beginning with medical personal to isolate cases with infection. Getting the virus is not a death sentence, but it means you can pass the virus to others very quickly,” said the CS.
Kagwe made the announcement as 14 people tested positive bringing the number of confirmed cases in the country to 172. Majority of the cases are mild with one person in the intensive care unit under ventilation but out of danger.
Three more patients have been discharged after turning negative. Youngest patient so far is 2 year old and oldest 72 years while the case fatality rate is low at 2-3 per cent.
Mandera County in North Eastern joins the list of counties with Covid cases after two people who have traveled from Mombasa to the county tested positive.
Kagwe acknowledged the sacrificial role played by healthcare workers who are the front line soldiers against COVID-19 and assured them of government support and protection.
He said no healthcare worker will go to high risk zones without protective gear noting that PPEs will be distributed to all in the next two weeks.
“We want to thank all our health workers for working tirelessly under difficult circumstances to fight coronavirus. We will support you to enhance your performance” said CS Mutahi.
The government has already identified suitable accommodation to quarantine health workers who come into contact with coronavirus patients.
“We have identified suitable accommodation for our health care workers so that healthcare workers who get into contact with these cases don’t go home but to a specific place therefore prevent close contamination with members of the family and public as they move home” said health director Dr Patrick Amoth.
The CS told Kenyans to brace for the worst as the the virus continues to spread.
“Let’s brace ourselves for bad news. The disease is here. The disease we are getting is very mild but this isn’t a reason to relax. We are hoping for the best but we must prepare for the worst. We must be mentally prepared to face a situation we haven’t faced before”, he warned.
He said the government will not hesitate to take bolder measures in the coming days if Kenyans will not adhere to the laid down guidelines ranging from wearing a mask, hand washing and social distancing.
He said “We can no longer run away from the disease. It is an invisible enemy that it is here with us and if we allow ourselves to play games with it, it will be difficult for us as a nation to catch up with it.”
On Monday, President Uhuru Kenyatta banned movement in and out of Nairobi metropolitan areas and three coastal counties to contain the spread of the novel COVID-19.