As the global coronavirus death toll nears 8,000, and 200,000 confirmed cases looming, MUHURI continues with its vigilance, at least, to keep the pandemic at bay.

Kenya’s Health Minister, Mutahi Kagwe, has announced seven confirmed cases – all imported – as of March 18, 2020. Strict measures, including ensuring Coast and Garissa counties are well prepared to handle a case, is critical.

Therefore, since March 16, 2020, MUHURI has been assessing the level of preparedness at various public health facilities and social places on the Coast. In Mombasa, the monitoring has been in coordination with Coast Civil Society Reference Group.

According to our findings, Mombasa County Level Five Teaching and Referral Hospital, which serves the Coast region, has established 19 well-equipped isolation rooms to serve any COVID-19 patient. The rooms are situated at a private wing, Rahamtula.

The Ministry of Health, the hospital said, has trained its 24 medical personnel on how to handle COVID-19 patients. By the time of our visit, together with a network of Coast CSOs, the 24 were training over 100 public health workers and 64 from private hospitals. County’s emergency contacts are 0793 390 984 or 0734881233 or 0777777242.

Closed border

The government has closed the Kenya-Tanzania border in Taveta, while the county shutdown marketplaces indefinitely.

But before the closure, our Officer observed health officials sanitizing visitors, always taking their contacts and physical address for follow-ups.

Taita Taveta county officials had ordered self-isolation for foreigners who accessed the country through this border. Village heads and security committees, our Officer says, monitored and promptly reported cases of illegal movement across the porous border.

The county government had also deployed public health officers and disease surveillance officials to monitor all public institutions.

No isolation room in Lamu

However, as of March 18, 2020, Lamu County Government was yet to set aside an isolation room and was contemplating using an already filled pediatric ward, thus posing a great risk to infants.

The county lacks infrared thermometers, protection kits, and enough hand sanitizers.

MUHURI is, however, sensitizing locals on the virus and protective measures should one develop flu-like symptoms, including regular hand wash, and self-quarantine.

Chinese deported

In Kwale, authorities deported 13 Chinese nataionals, who lacked medical certificates, after they briefly accessed Kenya-Tanzania border post in Lungalunga. The post lacks the equipment to test COVID-19 symptoms.

Kwale County Government has set aside private wards for COVID-19 admissions – four isolation beds at Msambweni hospital, eight at Lungalunga hospital, six at the Kwale Health Centre, and two Kinango Hospital. An emergency number is 0768078070.

Kilifi County Government has four isolation centers in Kilifi North, Kilifi South, Kaloleni, and Ganze. Emergency lines are 0794497578 or 0745994244.

In Garissa, the county has set up 20 isolation rooms at its referral hospital. Radio talk shows on COVID-19, aimed at raising awareness among the citizen, are on.

Tana River County Government is yet to give specific directions on the coronavirus crisis – but residents are preparing themselves based on the directives from the national government.

MUHURI interventions

MUHURI is supporting the national and county governments’ efforts in the fight against the pandemic, and has, among other measures, done these:

  • To block and minimize exposure to the virus by our staff and community we work with, we temporarily suspended all program activities and closed all our offices, with staff allowed to work remotely from home.
  • We have constituted a Crisis Management Team, which is charged with monitoring the situation and, for the safety of the group, has been proposing suitable control and preventive measures.
  • To facilitate the social distancing of the believers, MUHURI, in coordination and consultation with SUKPEM, NAMLEF, the Office of the Kadhi, and other Muslim leaders, is working to ensure all mosques are closed, until further notice. Already Jamia Mosque in Nairobi had been closed.
  • MUHURI has also been instrumental in supporting the circulation of the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development radio program schedule, that will help students during this time when the government has closed schools indefinitely.

Reporting by Collins Mwahendo, Kelly Aduo, Francis Auma, Fredrick Okado, Abdulrahman Mwangoka, Abdishukri Jelle, Ali Shee, Ogle Abdi, and Afye Swaleh.

Writing by Ernest Cornel.