All the 13 Covid-19 cases recorded in Meru County on Wednesday are Safaricom staff based at the company’s customer care shop in Meru town.
Wednesday’s case brings to 14 the number of Safaricom staff who have tested positive for the coronavirus after another employees was reported to have contracted the virus on Friday last week.
According to Meru Health Executive Misheck Mutuma, about 42 contacts of the patient who was isolated on Friday had been quarantined by Wednesday.
CONTACTS IN QUARANTINE
“The 13 positive tests are from the 42 contacts who are in quarantine. We have embarked on tracing more contacts from the new cases,” Mr Mutuma said.
Following the confirmation of the Covid-19 case on Friday, Safaricom closed its Meru shop until further notice.
Meru Health Chief Officer James Kirimi said contact tracing had been escalated following the record number of coronavirus cases in the county.
“The 13 include seven males and six females. We are well prepared to manage all the patients at the Meru Teaching and Referral Hospital,” Dr Kirimi said.
There are now 15 patients at the hospital with a truck driver from Mombasa who was isolated on May 26 still undergoing treatment there.
On Wednesday evening, the county public health team intensified fumigation of Meru town streets following the record number of Covid-19 cases.
The upsurge comes as it emerged that Meru County will spend Sh50 million out of the Sh152 million Covid-19 grant from the Ministry of Health to enhance preparedness in the current financial year.
Deputy Governor Titus Ntuchiu said the balance of Sh102 million will be appropriated in the next financial year.
The grant came as Meru rushed against time to fulfil President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive that all counties must have a minimum of 300 isolation beds.
“We received the Sh152 million a week ago and we have prepared a supplementary budget to spend Sh50 million this year. We had already allocated Sh36 million for Covid-19 out of which Sh28 million has been spent. We have allocated a further Sh50 million in the next financial year,” Mr Ntuchiu said.
Mr Mutuma said the county already has 124 isolation beds and is working on surpassing the 300 bed target by the end of the week.
“We are renovating the Meru Youth Service Training centre in Igoji to have a male isolation facility of about 180 beds. We are also in the process of identifying an institution to have a ladies-only isolation centre,” Mr Mutuma said.
He said the county was marked as high risk due to a big population of elderly people who are highly susceptible to Covid-19.
“Due to the population and the number of elderly people in Meru, we want to have more than 300 isolation beds. We are preparing for the worst-case scenario,” he said.
Speaking during a meeting with the Senate ad hoc Committee on Covid-19 last week, Meru Health Chief Officer James Kirimi said experts are projecting that confirmed Covid-19 cases may hit 900 in coming months.
Dr Kirimi said the relief is that the projections indicate that a small percentage of those infected with the coronavirus will need ICU facilities.
“More than 600 people have been tested so far,” he said.
A nine bed ICU facility which is under construction at the Meru Teaching and Referral Hospital is expected to be ready in July.
The county has also hired 400 health workers to beef up capacity while more than 120 others are being recruited.