Health officials in Mombasa have rolled out a contingency plan for Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) prevention and containment, three days after the Ministry of health listed the county in the red zone of a possible outbreak of the deadly contagion.
Public Health Chief Officer Pauline Oginga said among the measures includes setting up of a standby isolation facility at the Railways Dispensary in Shimanzi area on the fringes of the main CBD.
“We have identified this facility as our isolation because it is away from daily human activities. It has the capacity to handle over 20 people. Ordinarily, we have been using this facility for cholera isolations. The reason why we have not set up an isolation facility at Coast General Teaching and Referral Hospital is because it is a busy facility and we don’t want to risk exposing many people,” Oginga explained.
On Thursday, September 29, 2022, Oginga alongside other top officials in the Department and port health convened a stakeholders meeting where they laid out elaborate EVD strategies.
Addressing the press on Friday, September 30, 2022, Oginga said already a team christened ‘Team A’ is being trained by infectious diseases experts on how to respond and collect samples from a suspected case.
“We developed a plan on communication and response in case of a suspected case, be it from the community, Port, Airport or any other place. We laid out the structure on call centres…We understand that both Covid-19 and EVD are contagious but Ebola is worse. In this case, we are utilizing the Personal Protective Equipment that we acquired during Covid-19.
“We have distributed protective gear in sub-counties just like we did with Covid-19. In response, we are using the personnel we deployed during the pandemic. The difference is we are stressing on caution in donning, doffing and disaffection to curb Ebola. We have enough infection prevention materials which are key in such a response,” Oginga said.
The chief officers further added the county through public health promotion officers is creating awareness on the signs and symptoms of Ebola, especially for travellers and where to seek treatment.
Mombasa County has been listed as one of the high-risk Counties in a situational report by the Director General of health owing to the enormous human traffic between Kenya and Uganda through the Moi International Airport and other porous borders.
This is after Ugandan authorities declared an outbreak of the disease that has already claimed several lives.
On Wednesday, September 28, long-distance truck drivers plying the Northern corridor expressed worries about how cross-border authorities are handling the Ebola threat.
In an interview with People Daily in Mombasa, the truckers who have been traversing the cross-border long-distance routes via Uganda said little was being done to keep the ebola threat at bay and warned that with the status quo, Kenya is staring at a glaring risk of an outbreak.
Led by Salim Karama, the transporters said it is imperative that the government initiate preventive measures to shield its citizens from the threat of the deadly infection.
“The news of the Ebola outbreak in neighbouring Uganda is very intimidating, especially for our drivers who ply that route week in and week out. We have drivers who have arrived from Uganda today and it is important that the authorities institute measures to safeguard the lives of its citizens,” said Karama.
Dennis Otieno, one of the truckers who travelled from Congo via Uganda on Friday, September 28, said he was not screened at any point.
According to Otieno, no alert on Ebola has been placed throughout the 4704.1 Kilometer distance.
The trucker explained how he crossed the Rusizi border between Rwanda and Congo and later crossed Katuna, a town in the Kabale District at the Uganda-Rwanda border and finally Lwakhakha on the Kenya-Uganda border, noting that throughout there were no signs of Ebola prevention measures.
“For sure, for all those days I travelled I have never seen any government official carrying out sensitization on Ebola. I was very keen to look for any sign but there was none until I returned to Mombasa,” said Otieno
He further added: “As a driver, I can only urge the governments in the region to show us directly if there is Ebola. If we must screen then let us do so, so that will eliminate the fears and tension. We don’t want to leave in fear because right now we are not sure whether we are spreaders or not.”