Health CS Mutahi Kagwe has heightened security measures at entry points and also sent Covid-19 related items to counties located along the border after the number of deaths in neighbouring Tanzania increased.
Speaking to Kenyans.co.ke on Saturday, February 20, Kagwe said that they had enhanced port health surveillance, increased testing capacity, and sent personal protective equipment (PPEs) to all border counties.
These include Mombasa, Kwale, Migori, Taita Taveta, Kajiado, Busia and Kilifi. Health Director-General, Patrick Amoth added that the counties were directed to heighten checks, tracing, screening and surveillance at the borders.
Amoth said that they are also coordinating with Nyumba Kumi officials and a number of NGOs to track individuals who sneak into Kenya through informal border points. Nyumba Kumi elders were directed to urge residents to report suspects to health or police officers.
“We have instructed our officers to ensure that anyone coming into Kenya from Tanzania has a negative Covid-19 certificate except Kenyans who test positive and are coming back home. These Kenyans will be taken for sequencing. Any other positive patients are and will not be allowed to cross the border,” Amoth said while speaking to Kenyans.co.ke.
The DG added that they were using rapid tests to speed Covid-19 testing at the border point and had also enhanced surveillance at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA). Kenya secured robots that were deployed at JKIA, Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) and Mbagathi Hospital.
The robots can perform temperature checks on individuals, broadcast messages that remind one to sanitize, detect whether people are wearing masks and disinfect a contaminated area.
Tanzania’s President John Pombe Magufuli declared the country to be Coronavirus-free in April 2020 and ordered full re-opening of borders and economic activities, saying that God had protected the East African nation.
The country last posted its Covid-19 update in April 2019 when the cases stood at 509 with 21 deaths and 183 recoveries. Magufuli since then warned the health officials against adopting vaccines produced by foreign countries. He also limited announcements of Covid-19 information to the President, Prime Minister, the Minister for Health and the government’s Chief Spokesman only.
Magufuli further urged residents to practice hygiene and use traditional medicines. Wearing masks and social distancing is not mandatory.
In February 2021, Tanzania lost Zanzibar’s first Vice President, Seif Sharif Hamad and five retired army generals in Covid-19 related deaths. The Medical Association of Tanzania acknowledged on Feb. 5 that there had been a sharp increase of patients admitted to hospitals around the country with “breathing challenges”.
The Catholic Church has also broken ranks with Magufuli and urged his administration to recognise the damage Covid-19 was causing in Tanzania.
“The problems might be caused by “pneumonia, asthma … heart diseases or can be the last stages of death or COVID-19,” the statement said.
Magufuli, however, reiterated that Covid-19 did not exist in Tanzania. He dismissed lockdowns and asked Tanzanians to pray for three days starting Friday, February 19.
“God has never forsaken this nation. We never imposed lockdown in 2019 and we will never impose lockdown. Let’s pray and fast for three days. I am sure we will win. May I ask religious leaders just as you have been doing, keep insisting in prayers,” Magufuli said.