Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe has reassured Kenyans of the country’s preparedness for the coronavirus, adding that the World Bank has agreed to fund emergency responses.
CS Kagwe said counties have heightened their levels of preparedness and allayed fears that the country is not well equipped to handle a spate of the disease which has caused worldwide panic.
The CS also warned against spreading of rumours on the Covid-19 and discrimination of foreigners, saying such action is criminal and punishable by jail term and huge fines.
“Once you share that information, you become guilty of that offence. It doesn’t matter if the information was shared to you by someone else. So before you share any information, it is imperative that you are sure that that information is correct. It is important that people abstain from abuse of the social media and passing out information that they are not sure of,” the CS said.
Mr Kagwe was speaking when he met with the Council of Governors on Wednesday for a briefing on the counties’ level of preparedness for the coronavirus.
He said the Mbagathi Hospital isolation ward in Nairobi would be ready by Thursday, a day ahead of President Uhuru Kenyatta's seven-day order.
“I would like to add that up to now, we have tested cases around. We even had a case in the United Nations yesterday (Tuesday) in which we had to carry out tests. And so far God has been kind to Kenyans. They are all negative. We have not had a single positive case in Kenya at the moment,” he said.
The Health CS, who took over the docket a week ago, noted that counties are already setting up treatment facilities such as a quarantine facility in Mavoko, Machakos County.
“It is just a question of proper coordination and standards that we need to set for the creation of the isolation wards and how to transfer those who are infected, as well as reservation of special ambulances for transporting them,” he said.
Counties have been given two days to hand in a list of requirements to the Health ministry.
Local administrators including chiefs, their assistants and police would be deployed in the event there is a need to isolate people and secure certain areas, Mr Kagwe said.
“We acknowledge that we are also working with other players in the international community including the World Health Organisation, the World Bank and the Centre for Disease Control (CDC). We are glad that the World Bank has come to our aid and any emergency responses will be well funded. We pointed out to the World Bank our weak areas –where we have financing gaps, and they assured us that as opposed to the norm where there is usually delay in the disbursement of funds, these particular funds will be available to us immediately,” said the CS.
He assured Kenyans that there is enough protective equipment including at counties, and that health workers' training on use of the safety gear is ongoing.
Last Tuesday, amid public uproar over the country's Covid-19 preparedness, President Kenyatta issued an executive order directing that the 120-bed ward at Mbagathi Hospital be completed within the next seven days.
Mr Kenyatta also ordered that isolation and treatment facilities be set up in all Level Five and referral hospitals across the country by March 15, 2020.
The Covid-19 virus, that originated in Chinese city of Wuhan and has spread globally, has as at Wednesday killed more than 3,000 people and infected more than 93,000 others.