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Coronavirus: I fear for my life, says KQ whistle-blower

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Gire Ali, the Kenya Airways employee who was suspended for filming and sharing a video of a China Southern Airlines plane landing with 239 passengers at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on Wednesday, now says he fears for his life.

In suspending him, the airline accused him of going against company policy in exposing poor handling and management of passengers arriving from coronavirus-ravaged China.

The video caused uproar, with Kenyans accusing the government of exposing the country to the virus.

On Friday, Mr Ali confirmed his suspension as social media went abuzz with the news.

“Yes, what is trending is true. They have suspended me,” said Mr Ali.

In the letter to him signed by chief human resources officer Evelyne Munyoki, the airline says it took the action because of his involvement in distributing the clip.

“It has been determined that you be suspended from duty with effect from 27th February 2020 in accordance with provision of clause 16.5 of the Company HR Policy,” Ms Munyoki said.

“During the period of suspension, you will be required to avail [sic] yourself to the investigating team, your manager or any other person in authority as and when required.

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“You are therefore required to remain contactable and within easy reach during the period. Also note that the suspension will be on full salary.”

Mr Ali said he feared for his life after he exposed the airline.

“They have been calling and I’m yet to go and meet the team because someone warned me that my life might be in danger and that they were watching me. I handed over my work identification documents through the fence and left. I fear about what could happen to me,” he said.

A video that went viral on social media shows Southern China Airlines’ Flight CZ 6043 landing at JKIA at 7.29am to a hostile reception that saw medical officials at the airport refuse to screen passengers, who were not allowed to leave the plane for almost an hour.

According to a source, it took the intervention of senior government officials to end the standoff.

“All 239 passengers were screened on board, cleared and advised to self-quarantine for the next 14 days,” the Ministry of Health said later.

But Mr Ali says they had earlier this month raised the health safety concerns with the employer but nothing had been done.

In a letter seen by the Saturday Nation, ground crew who handle the Chinese airline wrote to their supervisor on February 2 expressing their fears and asking to be issued with protective gear but got no response.

READ ALSO:   HEROIC: Meet the Kenyans helping contain Coronavirus in China

“As you are aware, we have a duty to provide security services to China Southern from the time of arrival up to departure,” they wrote.

“We’re required to maintain security presence on this flight as long as it is on the ground. Our staff are badly exposed since we do not have protective gear while discharging our duties. We kindly request that similar masks be provided to our staff working on this flight.”

Our calls and text message to get a comment from Dennis Kashero, head of Kenya Airways communications and public affairs, went unanswered.

Kenyans fear that some of the passengers could have contracted the infectious disease, which has spread to over 45 countries, killed more than 2,800 people and infected over 83,000 worldwide, with the vast majority in China.

Kenyans have been furious with the government for allowing flights from China.

They have been calling for the unconditional reinstatement of Mr Ali, calling him a hero for being a whistle-blower.

BY Nation


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Health

MP’s battle with Covid-19 at home

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On November 2, Nakuru Town West MP Samuel Arama drove to Naivasha to attend the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) meeting.

Earlier, Mr Arama had taken a Covid-19 test at a health facility in Nakuru after he experienced chills at night.

However, on arrival at the hotel where he was to spend the night, he started experiencing chills again and developed fever, pain in the joints and nausea.

Soon he started experiencing shortness of breath.

He informed his colleagues that he was feeling unwell, and they quickly planned to take him to Nairobi for treatment.

Not able to walk

“When I booked into my room, my body temperature was high and I had chills. It was at that time that I received a phone call from health officials that I had tested positive for Covid-19. I had gone for the test before travelling to Naivasha,” he recalled.

But when he informed the department of health about his plan to travel to Nairobi for treatment, he was counselled and advised by the County Chief Officer of Public Health Samuel King’ori to self-isolate in his house where he would be monitored by medics.

Inside an isolation room in his house, he was put on supplemental oxygen and fed through tubes, with doctors examining him in the morning, afternoon and at night.

READ ALSO:   KQ suspends employee who took video of Chinese plane at JKIA

“For the past several weeks, I have kept off the public because I was not able to walk, talk or eat after being diagnosed with Covid-19,” said Arama.

After 15 days, he began to feed normally and later tested negative for coronavirus.

“God has been merciful to me. Gasping for air and feeding through tubes was the most trying moment in my life. Actually, this was my first time to feed through tubes and get oxygen support,” he said.

The MP plans to work with community health volunteers, the police and youth to sensitise locals on Covid-19 preventive measures.

He wants to buy at least 20,000 masks to distribute to the needy through local administrators and nyumba kumi members.

Prior to being diagnosed with Covid-19, Arama used to hold a meeting with constituents.

Initially, he used to criticise police whenever they arrested people for contravening Covid-19 protocols.

“At times I would rush to the police station whenever I heard that someone had been arrested, but now I support the police to fully enforce the set containment measures. It is through discipline that we will save the society,” he said.

He said during meetings with constituents he never thought he would contract the virus.

“I take this opportunity to thank God for giving me this second chance to serve Him and the people of Nakuru Town West,” he said.

READ ALSO:   Coronavirus: Kenyan student happy to be home from China ‘hell’

His message to the public is to wear masks, wash hands with soap and water and avoid crowds.

“We need everyone to put on masks, wash hands with soap and water and avoid gatherings. This is the only way to contain the spread of this virus,” said the MP.

Dedication and courage

Arama applauded health workers in Nakuru, for their dedication and courage in the fight against Covid-19.

“I can confirm to you that Nakuru County has the best health facilities, equipment and qualified medical personnel. I spent two weeks on oxygen support machine, intensive treatment and consistent checkups,” he said.

Health records indicate that the attack rate in Nakuru is 169.2 out of 100,000 population, with a case fatality of 2.2 per cent.

Although the MP was reluctant to reveal the cost of his treatment, a source at the local department of health told The Standard he incurred a bill of Sh51,684 per day because he required supplemental oxygen and his condition was critical.

By Standardmedia.co.ke


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Health

Close friend, carrier of deadly disease

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Dog has always been mans best friend, but without responsible ownership, they are turning to I be the worst man’s enemy bet cause of rabies.

J The deadly virus spread to people from the saliva of infected animals, usually through a bite. Warm-blooded animals serve as reservoirs for rabies, with unvaccinated dogs as the main reservoir worldwide.

Florence Ndinda from Makueni county is one of those who can’t stand a dog’s presence after her two granddaughters, who she is taking care of, were bitten by her own dog, which was rabid.

She remembers vividly how two years ago one of her granddaughters, Florence Mbithe [then eight], was bitten by one of her puppies. Mbithe was playing with other children outside their house when a puppy came running to her. Before Florence could rescue Mbithe, the puppy had already bitten her.

Confused without knowing what to do, Ndinda took her granddaughter to the nearby dispensary for first aid. After receiving help, she was connected to the Makueni Rabies Surveillance team who came and took samples from that dog and the result showed it was rabid. They were also referred to Makueni Level Five hospital for Mbithe’s treatment.

“I was advised to isolate the dog for 10 days as the rest were getting the vaccine, but I didn’t. I felt that since it was a puppy it won’t harm any other person,” she says.

Since she couldn’t manage to go to Makueni hospital that same day, she had to go there the following day. While away, the same puppy attacked her youngest granddaughter Abigael Ndinda then aged four. With no Post-Exposure rabies Prophylaxis [PEP] vaccine at the hospital, she was forced to buy it from the nearby pharmacy.

It was not easy to get the required five doses per person for both her granddaughters. With a dose going for Sh950, she only managed to buy them three doses each. She also vowed to never ever keep dogs in her compound and even her neighbor’s dogs are always chased away when spotted in her compound.

“PEP is compulsory if you are bitten by a dog, cat, or another animal that is rabid or is suspected to be infected with rabies. An exposed person who has never been vaccinated against rabies should get four doses of the vaccine and another shot called Rabies Immune Globulin [RIG]. A previously vaccinated person should get two doses of the vaccine. They do not need RIG. Always, make sure you complete the dose,” says Dr Emily Mudoga, Animals Campaign Manager at World Animal Protection.

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The vaccine is made up of the dead rabies virus. When it is injected into the body, the immune system immediately starts to produce antibodies to fight off the perceived infection. Multiple shots ensure the levels of antibodies remain elevated so that even if the live virus is already in your system, the antibodies will neutralise it.

Besides humans, rabid dogs attack livestock. Makueni county alone lost 300 livestock in the last five years. The number, however, is suspected to be higher since most cases go unreported.

Jane Nduku is one of the residents who lost her cow after it was attacked by a rabid dog. It took some days before she realised the cow had been bitten. She only found when she called the veterinary to report that the cow was suffering from foot and mouth disease as it couldn’t swallow anything. The veterinary confirmed otherwise.

“When the veterinary visited us, the dog that had attacked the cow had started showing rabid signs, but hadn’t gone crazy. So after taking samples and the result turned positive, we were advised to kill both the cow and the dog. That is exactly what we did,” says Nduku.

Richard Muteti, a veterinary who also doubles up as a field officer for rabies surveillance for Kenya Medical Research Institute in Makueni county, says some cases go unreported because livestock owners confuse rabies with foot-and-mouth disease, hemorrhagic septicaemia or choking.

Disease surveillance To ensure farmers are able to differentiate rabies from the above, he says they have been creating awareness about rabies and advising farmers to report if a dog attacks their animals. Because of these, reported cases of livestock being bitten by dogs have increased unlike before when people used not to report.

“At Makueni sub-county alone, we have been getting about 12 cases of dog or animal bites weekly. Since not all dog/animal bites are rabid about 20 cases turns positive annually,” says Muteti.

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Currently, over 70 per cent of the county is now reporting any dog /animal bite witnessed. Muteti reveals they are targeting 90 per cent.

To make sure all bite cases have been captured at the county level, Dr Daniel Ksee, Acting Director, Veterinary Services in the county, says they are set to unveil an Integrated Bite Case Management [IBCM], an approach for rabies surveillance that directly and formally links workers in public health and veterinary sectors to assess risk of rabies among animal bite patients and biting animals, respectively.

“This approach will help us with contact tracing, and we will be able to come up with concrete data about rabies in the county. We hope this approach will be embraced by other counties,” says Ksee.

Apart from this approach, Ksee says other initiatives in place include: annaul mass dog vaccination, that have seen about 300,000 dogs vaccinated; and training the community and teachers about responsible dog ownership.

He says most farmers don’t know the importance of vaccinating their dogs. Farmers have been focusing on animals that generate some income such as cows, goats, pigs and donkeys.

“We decided to use teachers because they can easily reach the students. They have been integrating responsible dog ownership topics in their programmes and we have recorded a decrease of stray dogs across the county,” adds Ksee.

It is recommended for puppies to get the vaccination at three months for the first time, followed at nine months, and then yearly boosters. In some cases, the first vaccination can be given as early as two months, but with precaution. For adult dogs, the first vaccination should be given as soon as possible, and a local veterinarian

should be consulted.

In Kenya alone, about 2,000 people die annually because of rabies yet it is 100 per cent vaccine-preventable. The World Health Organisation says rabies is estimated to cause 59,000 human deaths annually in over 150 countries, with 95 per cent of cases occurring in Africa and Asia. Due to widespread underreporting and uncertain estimates, it is likely this is a gross underestimate of the true burden of disease.

“In Kenya, domesticated dogs are responsible for transmission of over 98 per cent of all human rabies cases. Apart from dog bites, the virus can also be transmitted when saliva enters any open wound or mucus membrane,” says Mudoga.

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Although the campaign to make Kenya a rabies-free country has been running for the last 100 years, we are yet to eliminate the virus because, according to Mudoga, there is lac” political goodwill.

“Rabies vaccine has not been prioritised by counties despite that it is easier to vaccinate than to treat. The government needs to make this vaccine mandatory, put more resources for the campaign, and bring communities on board. With all that done, it will be possible to have zero human deaths from dog-mediated rabies by 2030,” adds Mudoga.

Survival chances

Generally, it takes between 30 to 50 days for rabies symptoms to develop. They appear once the virus reaches the spinal cord or brain. However, in some cases, symptoms can appear in just 10 days or it even over a year The duration depends on factors such as location of virus entry and viral load. Initial symptoms are flu, difficulty swallowing followed by fever, a headache and vomiting.

“Currently there is no cure for raibes. If you are bitten, you should visit your doctor right away. The incubation period can be as little as five days, so don’t assume you can wait for a week to see if the animal that bit you is unwell before seeking medical attention. The chances of survival are extremely low once the patient becomes symptomatic,” adds Mudoga.

And what should one do if bitten by an animal?

M udoga says the most effective first-aid treatment against rabies is to wash and flush the wound immediately with soap and water for 10-15 minutes. If soap is not available, flushing it with water alone is also acceptable.

MANAGEMENT

• Extensive washing and local treatment of the bite wound or scratch as soon as possible after a suspected exposure.

• A course of potent and effective rabies vaccine that meets WHO standards. • The administration of rabies immunoglobulin (RIG), if indicated.

by PD.co.ke


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Health

Former TVET boss laid to rest 12 days after succumbing to COVID-19

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The former Technical and Vocational Education and Training Authority (TVET – Kenya) Director Norman Owate Wambayi was on Saturday November 21, laid to rest at his home in Kakamge county 12 days after he died due to COVID-19 related complications.

Former TVET boss Norman Owate laid to rest 12 days after succumbing to COVID-19

Norman Wambayi (in blue) inspecting water packaging at his water plant. Photo: The Standard.
Source: UGC

The former director who was 66-years-old, died on Monday, November 9, while receiving treatment at the Avenue Hospital in Kisumu.

Speaking to TUKO.co.ke, Sigalagala Polytechnic Deputy Principal Anne Malumbe who attended the burial said Owate started showing COVID-19 symptoms shortly after he travelled to Mombasa for a workshop.

“He started having COVID-19 signs on October 27. He came back and quarantined himself at his Eshisiru home in Kakamega while on medication,” explained Malumbe who is also an immediate neighbour of the deceased.

“His oxygen level started going down nd his condition detoriraited n November 5. He was taken to Avenue Hospital in Kisumu where he passed on on November 9,” she added.

He is said to have been in high spirit and even made jokes even when he was sick and his family was convinced he was going to recover from the respiratory disease.

READ ALSO:   Listen as Sabina Chege encounters ‘rude’ call attendant in coronavirus test

Wambayi who also chaired on several boards of management in vocational training institutes in the western region was described as a jovial person who was always concerned with the wellbeing of his family even when he was sick.

He was also a lecture at the Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST) and his family also described him as a selfless and kind man.

As soon as the former TVET boss left active employment, he drilled a 45-metre deep borehole on his Kakamega farm and was supplying water to leading hotels in Kakamega town and its environs, schools, funerals and weddings.

The technocrat who believed that practical training and skills were critical in achieving Vision 2030 and helping Kenya become a middle income earning country.

He ventured into the business to demonstrate that you one did not need a white-collar job to lead a comfortable life.

Wambayi, who had an illustrious career and lived his life to the fullest has left behind three widows, eight children and several grandchildren.

by Tuko.co.ke


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