The Ministry of Health has raised the alarm over the quality of Covid-19 rapid testing kits being sold in the country on a day that Kenya confirmed 184 new cases, pushing the national tally up to 4,044.
Health Chief Administrative Secretary Rashid Aman said the rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) — which are said to give results within 15 minutes — cannot be relied upon to determine a person’s status. He asked Kenyans to keep off the unlicensed establishments offering the tests.
“We have noted that some testing kits purporting to test Covid-19 have permeated our market. RDT is an antibody test and is still under consideration and the World Health Organisation has also not issued any guidelines regarding them...it is only used for antibody testing and not to confirm whether a person is positive at that moment,” said Mr Aman. He spoke Wednesday when he announced that Covid-19 cases had spread to 40 counties.
“They (RDT) are only authorised for use in research and surveillance and indeed the ministry plans to use it for surveillance to see the extent of the Covid-19 spread in the country.”
He pointed out that only the real-time polymerase chain reaction, used to test the presence of an antigen, is approved for Covid-19 testing in the country.
Dr Aman said the Health Ministry had put in place measures to determine the availability of the RDTs in Kenya.
From the cases reported Wednesday, Nairobi had the highest tally with 111 while Mombasa, Kajiado and Meru had 19, 14 and 13 cases, respectively. Busia also confirmed six cases as Kiambu, Machakos and Nakuru reported nine, three and four cases, respectively.
Vihiga, Kwale, Kisumu, Garissa and Taita Taveta counties also confirmed a case each.
“We are beginning to see a rise in the number of cases and all indicators show that we are going to see an exponential rise in our curve. This is serious and a situation we all need to be concerned about,” said Mr Aman.
Some 27 people recovered and two died bringing total recoveries and deaths to 1,353 and 107, respectively.