Health CS Kagwe urges counties to be on high alert over new COVID-19 variant

Health CS Kagwe urges counties to be on high alert over new COVID-19 variant
Health CS Mutahi Kagwe,speaks when he launched the Smart Anti-Epidemic Robotic solution technology during a ceremony attended by various dignataries and ministry officials at a Nairobi hotel on January 22, 2021. PHOTO / MOH

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe has called on border counties to heighten surveillance to prevent new COVID-19 strains from entering the country.

CS Kagwe, who spoke on Tuesday at the Narok Referral Hospital, urged counties to stay on alert to keep another surge of the virus at bay.

The CS was flanked by Foreign Affairs CS Raychelle Omamo and their Energy counterpart Charles Keter on an inspection tour of the ongoing national government projects which include upgrading hospitals in all the counties.

“We have to be very careful moving forward because, as you know, Narok is a border county…therefore as you have heard in international and national press, there is a new variant of COVID-19 that is also developing and we want to be sure that we’re keeping a high level of vigilance and surveillance so that we can prevent outbreaks of new variants in the country, and the first hope is in the border counties,” said CS Kagwe.

South Africa in December last year identified a new variant of the coronavirus that led to an increase in a second wave of infections, only days after Britain said it had also found a new variant of the virus.

“We have convened this public briefing today to announce that a variant of the SARS-COV-2 Virus – currently termed 501.V2 Variant – has been identified by our genomics scientists here in South Africa,” Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize tweeted on December 19, 2020.

“The evidence that has been collated, therefore, strongly suggests that the current second wave we are experiencing is being driven by this new variant,” Mkhize added.

Kenyan scientists in January this year also raised an alarm on a coronavirus variant they said differs from the one spreading in South Africa and Britain.

About 10 investigators from the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) discovered the coronavirus mutation responsible for the COVID-19 disease.

Charles Agoti, a principal investigator and researcher, said that the variant unique to Kenya was detected in a batch of samples taken from Taita Taveta County.

“Our interpretation is that because in this one place in Kenya we were seeing, it represents the majority of the sequenced samples; it does imply that actually, it could if it has intrinsic properties, be more transmissible. It could result in an increase in the number of cases locally,” Agoti said.

Additional Information by Agencies

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