By Collins Orono
The County Government of Busia has dispatched a team of medical officers to Salvation Army Kolanya Boys High School in Teso South to contain the spread of Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
This followed a random test carried out at the school where it was shocking to learn that out of 100 tests carried out, 60 cases tested positive. Of the 60, 52 were students, 6 teachers and 2 were support staff.
Addressing the press outside the County Headquarters on Tuesday, Busia Governor, HE Sospeter Ojaamong said the positive cases have been isolated within the school and medical staff deployed to manage them, adding that the rest of the school fraternity has been quarantined in the school.
“Since the first case was diagnosed in April 2020, Busia has reported a total of 1,683 positive cases out of 75,564 tests carried out. Out of 63,590 drivers tested, 1,364 tested positive, 10 food handlers tested positive out of 569. 12 out of 962 healthcare workers tested positive while 152 prisoners out of 778 and 363 out of 5950 community members tested positive,” he said.
The Governor said the county’s isolation centres have handled a total of 2,016 cases, most of whom have been discharged , leaving only two, noting that the deaths have been spread as follows:- Bunyala sub county 4, Butula 2 with Nambale, Samia,Teso North and Matayos recording one death each.
The County chief disclosed that they have been carrying out testing at Alupe KEMRI laboratories, Busia County Referral Hospital and KEMRI CDC Kisumu. There are a number of challenges that have been experienced including inadequate test kits and reagents at Alupe and BCRH, inadequate testing staff, frequent breakdown of testing machines, inadequate surveillance support, delay in release of test results and inadequate transport.
“Since the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic, Busia County has suffered from massive effects of the pandemic. The County hosts two border towns of Busia and Malaba which are the exit and entry points of over 1500 commercial trucks which cross the border daily.
Due to the cross border requirement for the drivers of these vehicles to be tested before crossing into either side of the border, traffic jam has been witnessed extending more than 40 km.
This has increased the risk of not only spreading the COVID-19 infection into the surrounding community but has also posed other public health risks,” he said.
The pandemic has also had immense negative effect on trade and exposed the residents to poverty since businesses remained closed during the peak of the disease.
He added: “In past few weeks, Busia County has experienced an increased number of positive cases signaling a second wave of infection. In this phase we have seen community spread spiking.
My surveillance teams have been mobilized to ensure the disease is contained. It is important to note that in this second wave cases are presenting with severe symptoms, unlike the initial cases,” he noted with concern.
The Governor revealed that the ICU at Busia County Referral Hospital is complete following installation of the oxygen plant, adding that the facility which has capacity of four beds, has been equipped and will be utilized to handle critical patients of COVID-19.
This comes even as Education CS George Prof George Magoha insisted that schools are the safest environment for learners, even as the Covid-19 infection rate continues to surge.
The CS on Monday said the ministry will on Wednesday engage President Uhuru Kenyatta over a plan to fully reopen learning institutions, hinting on possible resumption for in-person teaching and learning for all classes. This includes those in pre-primary, Grades 1-3, Class 5-7 and Form 1-3.