NAIROBI, July 15 (Xinhua) — The Kenyan healthcare practitioners are at increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 as a growing number of workers contract or die of the virus.
Ministry of health officials on Wednesday acknowledged that healthcare workers have borne the brunt of COVID-19 as they attend to a rising number of infected patients in both public and private healthcare facilities.
Rashid Aman, chief administrative secretary in the ministry of health, revealed at a briefing in Nairobi that 450 healthcare workers had become positive for COVID-19 while four had succumbed to the disease.
“It is the priority of the government to protect health workers from COVID-19 given their high risk of infection. We will be applying international guidelines and protocols to ensure that health workers are protected from the disease,” said Aman.
Kenya lost the first medical doctor to COVID-19 on July 10 amid rising concern over their safety while treating critically ill patients in emergency wards.
Doreen Adisa Lugaliki, a 38-year old gynecologist contracted the virus while in the line of duty and her demise triggered a national debate on the plight of healthcare workers amid their vulnerability to the highly contagious pathogen.
Aman said the government was concerned that COVID-19 was taking a toll on frontline health workers hence jeopardizing efforts to contain the pandemic in the country.
“The risk of COVID-19 transmission among healthcare workers mainly relates to overcrowding in facilities, lack of personal protective equipment and poor understanding of the virus,” said Aman.
He said the state has prioritized occupational safety for health workers, promotion of hand and respiratory hygiene, availability of protective gear to minimize their exposure to the virus.
Aman revealed that 41 healthcare workers at Nairobi’s Pumwani Maternity Hospital had tested positive to COVID-19, adding that they were receiving adequate care at an isolation facility.
He said the central government will provide technical capacity to counties to boost testing and treatment of healthcare workers amid risk of contracting the COVID-19.
Patrick Amoth, acting director-general for health, said that frontline health workers were grappling with higher exposure to the COVID-19 and required special attention to prevent infections and fatalities.
“We are concerned about the rising number of our nurses and doctors who are testing positive to COVID-19. They require enhanced care and protection given their huge contribution to the fight against the disease,” said Amoth.
He said the government will support establishment of isolation centers in the country’s main referral hospitals to support treatment and care of healthcare workers who contract the COVID-19 while in the line of duty.
The development comes as the ministry of health announced that COVID-19 cases passed the 11,000 mark on Wednesday.
Aman said that 461 people tested positive from 4,261 samples over the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of infections to 11,252. Out of the 461 cases, 432 are Kenyans while 29 are foreigners, he said.
The official said that 51 patients were discharged from various hospitals in the country, bringing the total number of recoveries to 3,068.
“Sadly, we lost seven patients to the disease, bringing our fatality to 209,” he added, warning that the number of infections is likely to increase as cases approach the earlier projected peak.
The ministry of health said currently 1,041 patients are admitted in hospitals suffering from COVID-19 with 39 are in Intensive Care Unit (ICU) while 21 are with ventilator support.
Kenya has so far tested 225,495 samples since the disease was announced in the country in mid-March. Enditem