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PRESS RELEASE: Progress Report on COVID-19 Preparedness And Response Plan by Isiolo County Government

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By Wario Galma Guracha – Signed on 6th May 2020

Background

On 31 December 2019, World Health Organization was informed of a cluster of cases of pneumonia of unknown etiology (cause) detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. The Coronavirus disease (COVID-2019) was identified as the causative virus by Chinese authorities on 7th January 2020. Over a couple of months, the disease has spread around the globe with more than 3,781,168 Million confirmed cases reported with over 261,714 deaths case. Kenya had 27,370people tested, registered 582 confirmed cases, 366 active cases, 190 recovery cases so far and with 26 fatality cases reported as at 6th May 2020. General information about Covid-19 guidelines as stipulated by the World Health Organization, the Ministry of Health of Kenya and the Presidential guidelines to manage the spread of the novel COVID-19 pandemic is as follows;

  1. Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) is a new respiratory illness that can easily be spread from person to person;
  2. COVID-19 is spread through contact with droplets produced by a person who is sneezing or coughing or contaminated surfaces or objects;
  3. COVID-19 can cause severe symptoms like fever, cough, headache, body aches and difficulty in breathing;
  4. COVID-19 is preventable through;
    –Washing your hands with soap and running water or using an alcohol based hand sanitizer,
    – Keeping a social distance of at least 2 metres or 2-3 steps from people with flu-like symptoms.
    – Avoiding shaking hands, hugging or kissing with people with flu-like symptoms.
    – Staying at home and avoiding travel when you have flu-like symptoms.
  5. Early detection and treatment can contribute greatly to survival of the patient; and
  6. COVID-19 cannot be transmitted through air.

CURRENT STATUS AT PLAY IN ISIOLO COUNTY

The County Government of Isiolo, County Covid-19 Emergency Response Committee and Isiolo County Department of Health Services;

Echo the preamble of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 that affirms Kenyans ‘proud of our ethnic, cultural and religious diversity and determined to live in peace and unity as one indivisible sovereign nation’;

Recognizing the sovereignty of the people of Kenya and their aspirations for a government based on essential values of social justice, equality, non-discrimination, freedom and rule of law as enshrined in the Constitution of Kenya, 2010;

Emphasizing the need for harmonious co-existence, national cohesion and integration as emboldened by the Constitution of Kenya, 2010;

Recalling that some of the fundamental national values and principles of governance as espoused under Article 10 of the Constitution of Kenya include inclusiveness, non-discrimination and protection of the marginalized groups, communities and regions;

Underlining constitutionalism, the rule of law, due process, fairness, social justice, equity, equality, representation and inclusivity cardinal tenets and principles of democracy and recognize the detrimental impact of the lack of the respect for rule of law and full operationalization of the Constitution as a risk to the current gains for women, vulnerable and marginalized populations;

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Reaffirming our total commitment and support to the devolved system of governance, fight against the monster of corruption and imprudent financial management by some duty bearers within the structures and institutions of the national and county governments;

Taking cognizance of the significance concept and purpose of the national values of transparency, accountability, moral probity and objectivity, impartiality and integrity and the need of their internalization by duty bearers at national and county levels of public service;

Re-affirming the freedom of security of all persons, protection of families, communities and their properties without any distinction based on including age, gender, socio-economic status, political affiliation, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, religion, health status as enshrined in the Bill of Rights and International instruments; and

Bound by common origins, challenges and ideals for socio-economic and political development as a region and as an indivisible integral part of the country’s development and future;

Do hereby draw attention of the members of the public, civil society organisations, political leaders, religious leaders, professionals, members of the fourth estate (mainstream media) and stakeholders in health sector (Ministry of Health and Council of Governors) on the current health sector situation report:

COUNTY RESPONSE SITUATION REPORT

The County Government, County COVID-19 Emergency Response Committee and the Department of Health wish to register progress on the following;

  1. The County COVID-19 Emergency Response Committee was unveiled on 16th March 2020. It comprises of different key stakeholders and representation of county government, national government and religious leaders among others. The Committee is chaired by the Governor and co-chaired by the County Commissioner. The County Committee did also establish Sub-county and Wards committees which meets twice weekly to deliberate on progress of implementation of the County Emergency and Response Plan;
  2. The County Committee embarked on establishing rapid response team in all the three sub-counties which comprises of technical officers from the County Department of Health. The team manages daily operations and implement the emergency response plan in their respective sub counties. They also guide on surveillance, deliberation and protection of public and healthcare workers;
  3. There were intensified case findings through robust surveillance system, engagement of community workers, involvement of volunteers and grass root mobilisers has yielded fruits in the fight against the virus. This has resulted in more people in Isolation and quarantine centers. 85 individuals believed to be primary suspects who were put under quarantine, 73 individuals successfully completed the 14-day period while 12 are still in the quarantine centres;
  4. The county government has already trained a total of 1,128 health workers including community health volunteers on handling coronavirus patients. Eleven Healthcare workers have undergone intensive TOT training on COVID-19 supported by the Ministry of Health;
  5. Isolation Wards have been established in all the high-volume health facilities with varying number of bed capacities. A total of 57 beds across the county have been established with additional seventeen more beds to be procured;
  6. Cognizant of the fact that some COVID-19 patients may require ICU and HDU services, The department swung into action to avail the much-needed facilities under extraneous circumstances from Mission for Essential Drugs and Supplies (MEDS). MEDS is a faith based, not-for-profit organization based in Nairobi, Kenya;
  7. All the thirteen ICU beds at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and High Dependency Unit (HDU) were sourced from Mission for Essential Drugs and Supplies (MEDS) following due process;
  8. The isolation ward staff and surveillance response team have developed a good rapport in terms of patient admission and sample collection and testing. So far 41 samples were collected where 15 testing negative and waiting results for 26 samples;
  9. Community members were continuously sensitized through various media both local and national including our wide range of Community Health Volunteers (CHVs). The messages include what is coronavirus, mode of spread, preventive measures, signs and symptoms, case definitions, the vulnerable groups and the role of community members including adherence and compliance to government directives;
  10. Hand washing facilities have been established at all public places including health facilities, markets places and government offices as well as enforcing and ensuring total compliance by traders in town centers and in estates in installation of these facilities at their respective premises. In addition to that, since 21st March 2020 more than 80,000 passengers have been screened at all points of entry;
  11. The county government purchased and distributed assorted food items to cushion 16,000 households against hunger and malnutrition during these hard times of COVID-19. Moreover, medical supplies were also dispatched to flood hit areas in Iresaboru, Sericho The county government has partnered with more than Nine local and international Non-Governmental Organisation to scale up humanitarian response during this period of the novel COVID-19 pandemic;
  12. For the record, the county government did not borrow or lease ICU/HDU beds and critical medical facilities from any private or public entity whatsoever contrary to what has been peddled around by unethical activists though the law allows the County government to engage anyone or stakeholders during this period of emergency as clearly stated in Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act, 2015 Section 103 (2)(a)(b)(c) and Public Finance Management Act, 2012 Section 135 (1);
  13. The County Government has structured partnership arrangement with Mission for Essential Drugs and Supplies (MEDS) that has been ratified last year. This was in line with PPDA 2015 Section 103 (2)(a)(b)(c) and (e);
  14. Given the current situation in the country and the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health with respect to COVID-19 matters, procuring entities are guided to scale down the procurement activities with the exception of the ongoing process, save for the procurement of essential and critical services;
  15. There was NO MONEY lost in the procurement process. Therefore, the implementing County Department of Health can avail information required by any credible government agencies or public as law allows;
  16. While healthy and objective criticism is allowed, unethical individuals guised as activists and some segment of political leaders should not seek cheap popularity by peddling lies at a time when the country is battling the deadly virus;
  17. The investigative and security organs of the government need to deal with those hell-bent on spreading unsubstantiated rumours, misinformation and spew distorted news especially during this period of emergency;
  18. There has been continuous and harmonious collaboration between National and County governments to review containment with security agencies on curfews and quarantining to minimize economic impacts. Moreover, there were regular review of cross border travel and preparedness; and
  19. As at 6th May 2020, there has been no confirmed case for COVID-19 in Isiolo.

Editorial Note: Isiolo County registered the first case of COVID-19 on 7th May after mass testing was carried out.

CONCLUSION

The recent scathing criticisms of the County’s Department of Health by the so-called activists and politicians at the height of an unprecedented calamity exposes the dangers of politicisation and finger-pointing pose to the collective pursuit of tackling global health disaster. Yet the County government continues to work under tough environment and operating under low budget relying on the cooperation of national government and development partners.

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As the coronavirus related deaths and cases rise exponentially each day in the country, this is the time to quarantine COVID politics and instead double collective efforts toward flattening of the curve. The coronavirus like all other viruses has no tribe, race, religion or nationality and these petty politics only serve to distract the County from the core mission of defeating the pandemic.

Over time – we have demonstrated the pliability, bravery and wisdom required to conquer this invisible enemy. Our prayers and thanks to our brave and dedicated medical professionals, their support staff, essential service providers and humanitarian organisations. We thank God for those who are working every day to curb the spread of the COVID-19 in our county.

Thank you, stay safe and stay home.

Wario Galma Guracha is the County Executive Committee Member for Health and also a member of the County COVID-19 Emergency Response Committee.

About Whispers from the North

Whispers from the North is an online platform that appreciates the ecological, cultural and socio-economic diversities of Northern Kenya. We also acknowledge that the lives of the communities of northern Kenya has been shaped by a number of intrinsic and extrinsic factors which have led to complex challenge that calls for a multifaceted approach.

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