Coronavirus: Is Kenya prepared?

The Kenyan government is prepared in the wake of the novel coronavirus outbreak, with test kits and reagents expected to arrive in the country tomorrow, Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki told reporters on Friday.

“The government takes this opportunity to recognise the great work undertaken by the government and the people in China in fighting the spread of the virus in China, and in particular in keeping safe and helping Kenya students caught up in the epicenter of the epidemic,” Kariuki said.   

She added that the Kenyan government has taken a number of steps to ensure the country’s preparedness. According to Karuki, arrangements are underway to have test kits in Kenya and that mandatory screening is ongoing in all points of entry. 

Additionally, an isolation facility in Kenyatta National Hospital is currently available and used to isolate suspected cases while they undergo further investigation. The government has also established a facility with an additional bed capacity of 120 beds at Mbagathi District Hospital. 

Ambassador Kamau Macharia, the Principal Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, added that China and Kenya have been working closely to ensure the safety of Kenyans in China. 

“We have been impressed by the amazing response that the government of China has executed in response to this epidemic. We have seen a situation where Kenyans have been taken care of, are being reached out to, and are being facilitated by the government and people of China in ways that show that the government and people of China have a lot of respect for our people,” he said. 

Macharia added that currently the government has not put an evacuation plan into place for Kenyans in China.  “We are looking at all options that are available to us and recognising that maybe the best place for our students under the current circumstances might be exactly where they are, in China,” he said. “Should that change the government of Kenya will respond effectively , in the best interest of the students.”  

The coronavirus has so far spread to 24 countries, and Africa is one of only two continents with no confirmed cases of coronavirus. 

Over 31,000 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in China, including 637 deaths.  

Last week the World Health Organization (WHO) identified 13 top priority countries (Algeria, Angola, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia).