Rising rate and number of infections among health workers have been linked to several risk factors, including frequent contact with infected patients being that their job description makes them one of the crucial frontline workers.
From Outpatient Services to In-patient services in the isolation wards (even General wards) and Intensive Care Units (critically ill covid19 patients) 1st July, a total number of 186 healthcare workers were already infected.
A population which represented 8% of the then confirmed cases nationwide. By 15th July the number rose to 429 (which could’ve been more than that).
Now in August, the number has been projected to have doubled up . Tension has since hit the vital healthcare fraternity from when Dr. Doreen Lugaliki, first Kenyan Doctor succumed to novel Covid-19 in July.
Dr.Lugaliki served as an Obstetrician & Gynaecologist at The Nairobi South Hospital.
Two nurses have also succumbed to the disease.
The results of a study published in the BioMed Central to explore the perceived infection routes for healthcare workers revealed that most of them are infected when attending to patients.
The study reported that lack of personal protective equipment and exposure to infected patients mainly through work in high-risk departments and contaminated fluid and aerosols as some of the factors that have contributed to health workers getting infected with the coronavirus.
In Kisumu County
Earlier in July, nurses in Kisumu had raised concerns over the quality of the face mask supplied by the county government.
They noted that the masks were made of biodegradable textile, similar to what is used in the production of polypropylene bags. Kisumu National Nurses Association of Kenya Chairman Collins Ajwang told Kenya insights that they started receiving the face masks almost four weeks ago. “They came in big bunches from Hela Company EPZ Nairobi. We noticed they were not of [good] quality,” he said.
The union consequently filed a complaint at Kebs Kibos office seeking to establish the quality of the face masks.
“We found out Hella EPZ Company was accredited to produce facemasks. The first facemasks supplied were of good quality but the subsequent supplies were totally faulty,” said Mr Ajwang.
“When Kebs did their inspections they found out that the cartons were not labelled, lacked details of the products, address, Kebs mark and the supplier. The boxes were labelled ‘Made in India’,” he added A majority of these workers have not been trained on how to manage Covid-19 patients and do not have the N95 masks and protective equipment.
They are using the surgical masks so, if they interact with asymptomatic patients, they stand a high chance of getting infected,” said Mr George Gibore, secretary-general of the Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (Kuco).
Because of the shortage of N95 masks in the country, he said, health care workers are given only one mask for 24 hours, against the World Health Organisation recommended period of five hours.
“When they use it the whole day and sweat on it and touch it, this can be another form of transmission if they had touched a contaminated surface,” he said.
“When one works for about 14 hours just taking care of patients, more so the ones in intensive care unit, they risk getting infected,” he said.
According to Kebs, the masks were supplied by Hela Intimates EPZ Limited to Kisumu County.
It has since emerged that the masks were also supplied to the Council of Governors (CoG).
Kebs went ahead to delist three brands namely WAMNDAS manufactured by Wandas General Supplies, ARAX manufactured by Arax Mills and a mask manufactured by Hela Intimates EPZ which was not branded.
Currently, five health workers in Kisumu County have tested positive for Covid-19.
KAKAMEGA THEATRE CLOSED
In Kakamega, the county general hospital’s theatre was closed down after the lead surgeon tested positive for coronavirus.
KISII MEDICS INFECTED
In Kisii, two nurses and a biomedical engineer are among 27 people who have tested positive for Covid-19 in the region so far. The three contracted the virus while on duty and they are currently in isolation.
In Migori, 16 health staff have contacted the virus. By Wednesday, Migori County had recorded 286 positive cases with healthcare workers now fearing attending to patients over safety concerns.
At the sub-county hospitals, staff in the outpatient departments and those on night shifts are buying their own masks.
In Bomet, 15 of the 29 people in isolation after testing positive for Covid-19 are health workers in various cadres. Four of them tested positive on Thursday.
The more the they get infected – the more the number of those being isolated for weeks of quarantine and probably isolation if found infected. During this tough time, almost nobody will be left to attend to patients and once the system halts – it will be a disaster. Hence there will be need to have more healthcare providers – which definitely need more manpower hence call for final year students and those that have experience in clinical practicals to chip inn to save the situation.
Therefore, the Government in its plans need to begin as early as possible recall these students and train them on the handling of Covid19 patients so as to be ready for worst case scenarios soon if it cannot afford to provide sufficient WHO certified PPEs to protect the lives the current healthcare workers.
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