Nairobi virus spike raises fear of rapid slum spread


A section of Mathare slum in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Nairobi's Kibera and Mathare slums account for more than a third of new Covid-19 cases reported in Kenya Wednesday, raising concerns of a rapid spread in the city's densely populated informal settlements where social distancing rules are difficult to enforce and most residents have lost their livelihoods.

The country's cases jumped to 1,471 on Wednesday after 123 more cases were confirmed, the highest tally ever registered in a single day.

Out of the 85 new cases reported in Nairobi, about half of them were from informal settlements. Mathare slum, which is Kenya’s most densely populated area, according to census results released last year, had 33 cases.

The low-income settlement, had a population of 206,564 by last year with 68,941 persons living within a square kilometre, according to the national census results.

Kibera, another densely populated slum, accounted for 14 of he new Covid-19 cases while Embakasi West and Embakasi Central recording 12 and four respectively.

The increasing Covid-19 cases reflect an increasing testing capacity, as a total of 3,077 samples were tested on Wednesday.

“For the first time we have hit a triple digit. This is the highest number of positive cases we have ever recorded in a single day since the first case on March 13,” said Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe.

“The figures which we have shared illustrate the rapid rate of transmission in the informal settlements in Nairobi.”

Mombasa reported 24 cases, the second highest after Nairobi, with the virus having now spread to 35 counties.

Kiambu, Kajiado and Kisumu reported four, three and two cases respectively.

Mr Kagwe said 590 Covid-19 patients are in hospitals across the country, seven of them in critical condition. Four of those in critical condition are on ventilatory support while three are on supplemental oxygen.

Three more deaths were reported, bringing the total number of fatalities to 55.

Recoveries now stand at 408 after three more were discharged.