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Africa News of Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Source: allafrica.com

Kenya plans to expand coronavirus testing process

Health Cabinet Secretary (CS) Mutahi Kagwe, Monday appealed for equitable access to Covid-19 tools as the government moves to set up laboratories at border points.

Addressing the 73rd World Health Assembly via Zoom, the CS said the pharmaceutical industry should "weigh the profit motive and support in response to this pandemic."

"Kenya joins calls for concerted efforts aimed at ensuring universal, timely and equitable access to Covid-19 tools," he said.

During the daily press briefing on Monday, Health Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Rashid Aman said the government is planning to set up Covid-19 laboratories at border points to bolster testing capacity and reduce tests turnaround time.

Truck drivers

The laboratories will help reduce the time truck drivers wait to get results at the borders. But Kenya is still struggling to get reagents and other commodities to perform the tests.

The CAS said the government will expand the testing process to include restaurants, border points and communities as well as other high risk areas.

"Our limitation is the international supply lines for these (testing) commodities," he said, adding that the tests had increased in the last few days because the government had received a number of commodities.

Currently, it takes four days for results to be out at the Namanga border point, a situation that has led truckers to complain. He said the laboratories will be set in Migori, Taita Taveta and Lunga Lunga.

"We have capacity to test around the Uganda-Kenya border because we have facilities in Busia and Kisumu that are able to test quickly and give the results in good time," he said.

He added: "The problem we may have is along the Tanzania border whether it is Isebania, Namanga or Taita Taveta because we do not have a functional laboratory yet, that can do the tests in those places," he added.

Mobile laboratory

The East African Community has already donated a mobile laboratory that will be stationed at the Namanga border.

Dr Aman said the turnaround time at the border will be reduced to at least 24 hours once the laboratory is commissioned.

But the process may take a while due to processes and procedures on setting up such facilities.

The government announced that it had tested 53 truck drivers at the Kenya-Tanzanian border, and all of them turned positive. Two of them were Burundians while the rest were Tanzanians.

"We referred all of them back to Tanzania. Border points are critical for us because we are seeing more and more positive people who if not tested will be able to come into the country and spread the virus," said Dr Aman.

Twenty five new Covid-19 cases were reported out of 1,139 tested samples. 23 were males and two females. Also 23 of the positive cases were Kenyans while two were Somalis.

Kajiado had the highest number at six followed by Mombasa with five, Nairobi, Kiambu and Kwale had three cases each, while Taita Taveta and Garissa had two each and Meru County had one case. Those who tested positive were between 22 and 50 years.

Meru, Garissa and Taita Taveta are the newest counties to report the disease, bringing the number to 25 counties.

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