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Designated hospitals too overwhelmed to respond to new Covid-19 cases

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As Covid-19 continues to spread in the country, reports are emerging that the Ministry of Health is getting too overwhelmed to respond to new cases.

Designated hospitals for the virus are quickly getting full, the Nation has learnt.

Already the designated national Covid-19 hospitals are overflowing with both ailing and asymptomatic patients.

FULL TO CAPACITY

A source privy to the situation revealed that the Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral, and Research Hospital (KUTRRH), a 300-bed hospital, which had been transformed to manage Covid-19 patients had only three beds left, while both Infectious Disease Units at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) and Mbagathi Hospital unit under KNH, were already full to capacity.

This means that no more patients, even those who may need care will get a bed at any of these three facilities. In Busia County, the 71-bed Alupe Isolation centre had 98 patients as of Friday.

“We had to assess more facilities in Nairobi County and had to include private ones. So far, we have identified and designated 60 facilities for the management of Covid-19 patients in the country, with the majority being in Nairobi,” the source said.

Nairobi Metropolitan Service announced Monday that Mama Lucy Hospital had been designated as a Covid-19 isolation facility as the number of coronavirus cases soars to 2,474 confirmed cases.

Informal settlements including Kibra, Mathare, Kawangware, Lang’ata, and Eastleigh are the worst affected places in Nairobi.

A new 66-bed maternity unit at Mama Lucy Hospital complete with an ICU, a High-Dependency Unit, and general wards will now be used to isolate Covid-19 patients.

ISOLATION CENTRES

The Kenya health facilities oversight authority has been assessing hospitals across the country to identify suitable Covid-19 isolation centres.

On Thursday, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe acknowledged that the three initial isolation centres are full and the ministry was considering having asymptomatic Kenyans get isolated at home.

“We are looking into developing home-based and community care, provided that it’s in accordance with WHO protocols which we are currently reviewing and domesticating in line with our situation,” said Mr Kagwe.

He added that in cases where families and people in the same household cannot self-quarantine at home, the government will take charge.

“We have to change tack,” he said during a daily briefing at Afya House, Nairobi, on Thursday.

But even as the country reels from the rising numbers in isolation facilities, some patients who have tested positive for the virus are now complaining that health officials are not responsive.

TESTED POSITIVE

A number of cases are arising of patients who have tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes Covid-19 who have not been transferred to hospitals promptly despite developing and moderate and severe symptoms of the disease.

Speaking to Nation on Thursday, a 40-year-old woman who recently tested positive for Covid-19, told Nation that it took up to four days to visit to a nearby clinic.

“I went to a workplace clinic on the afternoon of Sunday, May 17 after developing a persistent fever and a cough. Initially, I did not think much about the symptoms because I work in a very cold room and I imagined that maybe I was just developing a cold or pneumonia,” said the mother of three who did not wish to be named because of the nature of her job.

What she didn’t know however, was that the virus was slowly taking toll of her.

“At the clinic, I had my samples taken for a Covid-19 test because when I compared my symptoms with what was constantly being run on the media, there was a similarity,” she said.

Her results, which turned out to be positive, were relayed to her on Wednesday afternoon, almost four days after her samples were taken.

CONDITION DETERIORATED

“By the time I received a call, my condition had deteriorated. If it weren’t for the paracetamol, cough syrup and antibiotics that had been prescribed to me for what the doctor initially suspected to be a common cold, we would be telling a different story,” she added.

By the time an ambulance went to pick her up from her house on May 21, she was already experiencing difficulty in breathing.

“Before I received my [Covid-19] results, I kept mingling freely with my family. I remember moving between the rooms and the balcony looking for a place where I could get better circulation of air,” she said on Thursday.

Luckily, she said that none of her other family members tested positive for Covid-19. The emergency response officer is now calling for the county health officials to streamline their response coordination.

“We are waiting for the second tests to be done but the first results turned out to be negative,” she said from her hospital bed in Mombasa.

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