Covid-19: Seven in 10 cases are asymptomatic, ministry says

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Residents of Kawangware in Nairobi County queue to be tested for Covid 19 following the start of mass testing in the area on May 1, 2020. PHOTO/COURTESY

In Summary

  • Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe noted that 91 per cent of all the virus cases are still confined to Nairobi and Mombasa.
  • These asymptomatic cases have motivated the launch of targeted mass testing that started in Kawangware on Friday.
  • The hotspots in Nairobi are Dagoretti North, Kamukunji, Lang’ata, Kibra, Embakasi South, Embakasi East, Embakasi North, Westlands and Makadara.
  • In Mombasa, they are Mvita, Likoni and Nyali, whereas emerging hotspots are Kiambu and Machakos due to their proximity to the capital city.

Seven in 10 cases (71 per cent) of those who have tested positive for Covid-19 do not show symptoms, the Ministry of Health said Friday as 15 new cases raised the national tally to 411.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe noted that 91 per cent of all the virus cases are still confined to Nairobi and Mombasa.

The minister announced that four more people have died raising the count to 21 and that another six were discharged, making the total number of recoveries 150.

These asymptomatic cases have motivated the launch of targeted mass testing that started in Kawangware and Mvita in Mombasa on Friday.

CS Kagwe said that he was concerned about Mombasa because out of the 15 new cases, 11 were from the coastal county.

HOTSPOTS

The hotspots in Nairobi are Dagoretti North, Kamukunji, Lang’ata, Kibra, Embakasi South, Embakasi East, Embakasi North, Westlands and Makadara.

In Mombasa, they are Mvita, Likoni and Nyali, whereas emerging hotspots are Kiambu and Machakos due to their proximity to the capital city.

CS Kagwe further said that the ministry will launch a new testing lab in Mandera to enable the northern part conduct its own tests.

So far, the 15 labs that are working in the country have tested 21,702 people but most of them have been in quarantine centres.

Scientists have been calling for the ministry to expand the tests to the community since the transmission is now local and cases asymptomatic.

CS Kagwe also said the ministry will test “truck drivers, hotspots, restaurants and health workers”, with the truck drivers’ tests taking place every 14 days.

DEATH RATE

The CS said he was optimistic about Kenya’s performance and stated that physical distancing remains the most effective way to stop the spread of the disease.

“The sooner we embrace these realities, the better for all of us,” he said, noting Kenya’s fatality rate of 5.1 per cent – below the global 7 per cent.

Kenya’s rate is, however, way above Africa’s, which is 3.8 per cent.

Mr Kagwe noted that without the curfew, which has slowed the spread of the disease, the country would have reported more cases.

The ministry has also employed the use of the more than 60,000 community health volunteers to help with contact tracing. So far, it has traced and quarantined 3,684 cases.

PROJECTIONS

Kenya’s numbers have increased but they are far from the figures the ministry projected – of up to 5,000 by mid April.

Director-General for Health, Dr Patrick Amoth, had attributed this to inadequate testing.

The ministry’s attention seems to have turned to countries that were considered low risk but now face a higher risk.

The government moved to block the border in Wajir as the county recorded two cases imported from Somalia, which had a total of 601 confirmed cases on May 1.

By Alice Victoria