The Machakos County Government on Monday converted Kenyatta Stadium into a hospital ward in readiness to admit Covid-19 patients.
Governor Alfred Mutua unveiled the 200 bed-capacity ward made of tents while promising to extend the bed capacity further.
Speaking at the facility, Dr Mutua said it will be used for Covid-19 mass testing and isolation.
He said this will help minimise interaction between coronavirus patients and those of other illnesses at the County Referral hospital located just 200 meters away.
Dr Mutua said the facility is now awaiting approval from the national government.
“This new mass testing and isolation centre will handle mild and non-critical cases. We are targeting up to 1,000 bed capacity in the county in the next one month,” he said.
He said a similar facility will be established in Mavoko Sub-county, which is under the Nairobi Metropolitan region.
He said 2,524 community health volunteers (CHVs) and 1,600 health workers have been sensitised about Covid-19 and are ready to handle the pandemic.
PAY ROW WITH NURSES
This comes amid a pay dispute between Machakos County nurses and the devolved unit, who recently moved to call off their planned strike.
The health workers had threatened to down their tools over delays in their March salaries and unavailability of adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs).
“The union (Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacist and Dentist Union) engaged with the employer amicably and settled the unpaid salaries. We have received information that salaries were banked on Friday the 17th of April 2020, at around 4:00 pm. This ensures that the challenges of meeting daily needs have now been taken into consideration,” said Dr Okumu.
The row also comes at a time when the county is broke and had last week sought a bank loan of Sh900 million to pay salaries and foot the bill for Covid-19 emergencies among other expenses.
The National Treasury had earlier refused to release an annual equitable share for the county presented in its budget after the devolved unit failed to adhere to a directive to pay pending bills, leading to the cash crunch.
The county says it is in the process of procuring 10 ventilators to supplement the existing 10 that will be used in critical care of Covid-19 patients.
On Sunday, Dr Mutua announced closure of Joska market in Matungulu Sub-county in a bid to stall spread of the virus.
At the same time, he asked the national government to come up with a programme to cushion those who have been rendered jobless by the pandemic as is happening in developed countries.