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More labs set for Tanzania border to ease cargo delays

truck driver Malaba border
Truck driver Kennedy Kyalo Nzole, displays a travel pass at Malaba border on May 2. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA 

More laboratories are to be set up at Kenya-Tanzania border posts to ramp up testing for the coronavirus and facilitate faster movement of cargo into and out of the country amid complaints by truck drivers and businesses about losses related to delayed results.

Health Chief Administrative Secretary Rashid Aman said Monday that testing centres will be opened in Migori town or Isebania, Taita Taveta and Lunga Lunga in addition to the Namanga mobile laboratory that is to be installed soon.

The Ministry of Health confirmed 25 new cases of the virus, bringing the national total to 912.

At the moment, samples collected at the border points are sent to the 16 laboratories spread across the country, with most of them in Nairobi and Mombasa.

Truck drivers have complained about being forced to wait for over three days for the tests results causing snarl-ups at the border points and goods to go bad.

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“The problem we currently have is along the Tanzanian border at Isebania, Namanga, and Taita Taveta where we do not yet have functional laboratories that can do the test and turn around the results very quickly," said Dr Aman. “Waiting for four days to get results is not an acceptable turnaround time, I think we will have to do much better in turning around the results as fast as possible.”

He noted that the country has enough capacity to test truckers at the border posts with Uganda, with laboratories in Busia and Kisumu.

On Monday's test results indicated that the coronavirus has spread to Garissa, Meru and Taita Taveta, bringing the total number of affected counties to 23. Two cases confirmed in Garissa are from the Daadab refugee camp. Two truck drivers were confirmed to be positive for the virus in Taita Taveta. Meru's single case was from Buuri.

Other counties which reported positive cases are Kajiado (six), Mombasa (five), Nairobi (three), Kiambu(three) and Kwale (three). Fifty-three foreign truck drivers were denied entry at the Kenyan Tanzanian border after they tested positive.

Twenty-two more recoveries were announced, bringing the total number of patients discharged to 336.

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