A contagious respiratory disease that was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province in People’s Republic of China in December 2019 has spread to 146 Countries, including Kenya. This has necessitated WHO to declare Coronavirus Disease (COVID)-19 a pandemic.
Kenya now has three confirmed cases of COVID 19.Turkana has not reported any case yet. As a result of this outbreak in the country, my Government has set up a 10 member County Emergency Response Team (CERT) comprising of National and County Government representatives. The team met on 16th March, 2020 and reviewed the measures put in place by county department of health to contain the outbreak and to recommend practicable measures on mitigating the unfolding outbreak situation.
Measures put in place by Turkana County Government
My county has been in a preparedness state for the last four weeks in anticipation of this worsening outbreak situation.
Measures already put in place are:
- We have formed a County COVID -19 Emergency Response Team (CERT) Chaired by myself and co-chaired by County Commissioner which will coordinate county outbreak response efforts.
- We have formed a technical rapid response team whose role is to train health workers, sensitize members of public, draw up a preparation plan, help in early identification of cases and overally manage the outbreak on day to day basis in case it hits Turkana.
- We have identified and mapped out all potential entry points in Turkana. In the risk profiling already done, the identified high risk areas are: Lodwar, Kakuma, Kapese airstrips and Lokichoggio airport. Kainuk, Lokichar, Turkana University, Kakuma, Kalokol cess stations on top of Kapedo village, GK Prison and Nadapal, Lokiriama and Todonyang are all high priority areas for our interventions. Medium priority areas are Nawountos and Nakitongo informal border points. Screening and holding points have been set up in Lodwar airstrip and Lokichoggio airport. The other airstrips will be coveredin the next 48 hours in collaboration with UNHCR and Tullow Oil. Kainuk cess station has been conducting screening for the last three days. We have also in collaboration with the National Government set up screening points at International border point of Nadapal. Lokiriama border point will be fully operational as a screening point in the next 48 hours.
- Setting up of isolation units and holding areas at the County Referral Hospital, Sub County hospitals and all points of entry has been done. In total we have 57 isolation beds in 12 facilities spread across the county.
- Immediately began health education, public sensitizations and mass awareness on COVID 19 disease through radios, schools and other communication channels like PAS and CHV’s for nomadic communities. In this regard, 19,374 people have been reached so far with hand washing and prevention messages.
- Heightened surveillance at points of entry and across the county.
- Distribution of Personal Protective Equipment and Screening gear to the identified risk sites.
- We have established an incident command centre with free toll number for members of public to call in case of a suspected case or in the event they want additional information. The number for Turkana County is 0758722023. An additional toll number will be available in the next 48 hours.
- Monitoring of 7 foreign nationals on self-quarantine in the county of which 4 of them have completed monitoring period and have been given a clean bill of health whilst the remaining 3 will complete their self-quarantine on 18th March 2020.
- Set aside three designated ambulances to be stationed in Lokichar, Lodwar and Makutano for purposes of referral of cases to Isolation points.
- Capacity building of 7 initial staff who are currently undergoing training as Trainer of Trainees on lab sample collection and clinical management of COVID 19.
Going forward, I implore members of the public to adhere to the following precautions;
- Regularly and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water for more than 20 seconds, or frequently use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Maintain a distance of at least 2 meter (6 feet) between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. If you have to touch them ensure your hands have been cleaned first.
- Shaking of hands is not advisable at this point as it may accelerate person to person transmission of COVID – 19
- Persons with fever cough or sneezing should stay at home or keep a social distance, and avoid mixing with others in a crowd. They should also call the toll free number for advice.
- Maintain good respiratory hygiene by covering your mouth and nose while coughing and sneezing. Use a single use disposable tissue, or flexed elbow when coughing or sneezing.
- Due to extreme climatic conditions experienced in Turkana where the days are very hot and the nights very cold, I herby advice all the residence to go to bed with warm clothes to protect themselves from vagaries of cold weather.
In Exercise of the authority vested upon my office, and in accordance with the provisions of the Public Health Act, Cap 242 Laws of Kenya, the general public is notified of the following directives which should be observed immediately;
- All public gatherings of more than 20 people are hereby banned. In this respect, harambees, faith based gatherings, funerals(only restricted to immediate family members), weddings, social congregations are hereby discouraged till further notice.
- All Early Childhood Centres (ECD’s) and vocational training centres have been directed to close with immediate effect.
- All seminars and trainings are suspended unless authorized by the office of county secretary.
- All official travels out of the county and county by staff are hereby suspended with immediate effect unless it’s of an emergency nature. Private travels outside the county are discouraged unless they are essential.
- All public offices, hospitals, malls, banks, restaurants, nights clubs, market stalls and hotels are directed to provide hand-washing facilities with running water with soap or alcohol based hand sanitizers.
- All discos and night clubs are banned
- Hospital visits will be limited to very critical caretakers; in any case 1 patient will only be allowed 1 caretaker. No visitors to hospitals will be allowed till further notice.
- All offices will have to put mechanisms of spacing of staff at work place, to at least 2 metres (6 feet apart) in place. Non-essential visitors to offices are discouraged.
- In collaboration with the national government, plans are underway to decongest Lodwar G.K Prison by immediate release of 125 petty offenders. Unnecessary visits to police stations are discouraged.
- All public transport providers including bodabodas, taxis, matatus, and buses are directed to provide alcohol based sanitizers and frequently fumigate their motorcycles or vehicles.
- All communication on COVID-19 progress in Turkana County will be availed by the County Department of Health.
- Spitting in public places or gatherings is hereby banned.
- My Government shall fast track recruitment of Health Care workers to help in combating this pandemic.
I hereby urge the people of Turkana County to be calm and avoid unnecessary panic at this time. We have a toll free number of 0758722023 for any information related to COVID-19.
Regular updates shall be provided periodically as the outbreak unfolds.
God bless you all and keep safe.
HE Hon. Josphat Koli Nanok EGH
Turkana County.Governor Nanok Press Release on COVID-19