Kenya’s COVID-19 cases top 18,000 as health ministry dismisses U.S. video touting use of hydroxychloroquine

Health workers help each other as they remove their Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), after the cremation of the body of Prof. Charles Kariuki who died due to COVID-19, at a crematorium in Nairobi, Kenya July 20, 2020. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Kenya’s COVID-19 infections surged beyond the 18,000 mark on Tuesday as 606 more people tested positive for the disease.

Health Cabinet Secretary, Mutahi Kagwe, announced the figures in a media briefing in the capital, Nairobi.

The East African country has now reported 18,581 COVID-19 cases as health authorities continue to record spikes in new daily cases.

Kagwe also noted that 14 more patients had succumbed to COVID-19 bringing the country’s total death toll to 299.

Other than Kenya, only seven other countries in Africa have reported more than 18,000 infections.

Kenya’s Ministry of Health also took the opportunity to distance itself from claims that COVID-19 is easily treatable using hydroxychloroquine.

On Monday, a video went viral on social media platforms featuring a group of people wearing white lab coats staging a press conference in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, DC.

During the press conference, a speaker said that “you don’t need masks” to prevent spread of the coronavirus, and that recent studies showing hydroxychloroquine is ineffective for the treatment of COVID-19 are “fake science” sponsored by “fake pharma companies.”

“This virus has a cure, it’s called hydroxychloroquine, zinc, and Zithromax,” the woman claims. “You don’t need masks, there is a cure.”

U.S. President Donald Trump, a leading figure in the push to use the unproven hydroxychloroquine in the treatment of COVID-19, shared the video on his social media.

Speaking at Tuesday’s media briefing in Nairobi, Dr. Patrick Amoth, the Ag. Director General for Public Health at the Ministry of Health Kenya, dismissed the claims, saying “due to stigma, fear, hopelessness, it is easy to hawk than sell science.”

“This video was based on an individual who apparently was addressing people somewhere without any scientific basis. The WHO has given very clear guidelines based on randomized clinical trials…which shows that the use of chloroquine in the management of COVID-19 does not add any value. To the contrary, it actually can cause a risk especially for those who have preexisting heart conditions,” said Dr Amoth.

The video has since been pulled down by Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.