Mandera now testing COVID-19 samples tests at KEMRI lab after Nairobi trips became too costly

Mandera now testing COVID-19 samples tests at KEMRI lab after Nairobi trips became too costly
Dr. Josyline Cirindi, Acting Deputy Director Laboratory Services at KEMRI with colleagues carry out COVID-19 test kit validation exercises at the Mandera-KEMRI Molecular Lab on October 5, 2020. FILE PHOTO | COURTESY | KEMRI

COVID-19 tests can now be done in Mandera following the launch of a Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) laboratory in the county.

Governor Ali Roba launched the lab at the Mandera County Referral Hospital on Monday.

“Despite all this challenges, we tested 854 people up to August 2020. It is against this background, as well as the fact that COVID-19 is not about to go away any time soon, that we partnered with KEMRI to establish a molecular laboratory that can test not only COVID-19 but also many other viruses,” Mr Roba said.

After the first COVID-19 case was reported in the county on April 5, officials were forced to rely on sample testing in Nairobi.

The process was found to be costly and there were delays in communication of the results back to the county.

The delays further posed a challenge in decision making for medical personnel.

“QC/QA validation process has been conducted with the help of KEMRI and NIC which will then lead to sharing of results through the National portal with MOH Hqs in Nairobi,” the Governor added.

According to him, since September 26, a total of 90 samples have been tested for COVID-19 at the Mandera Molecular Lab with six turning positive.

He noted that the six patients are responding well to management and care.

The total cumulative tests conducted at the lab to date are 944: 34 people were found to be positive, 32 have since recovered while two others succumbed to the virus..

Following an increase in COVID-19 cases, Governor Roba called for vigilance and upscaling of community interventions as well as personal protection measures to reduce virus transmission.

He said the Mandera County Government through the Ministry of Health has put in place 306 isolation beds across the County.

The Mandera Rehabilitation Isolation Center also has a 5-bed ICU capacity dedicated to COVID-19 cases.

This is alongside other critical care facilities at Mandera County Referral Hospial and Elwak Sub-County Hospital.

The border county has further recruited more medical personnel, trained all staff and procured enough supplies and equipment to respond to this crisis.

“We will now redouble our efforts in prevention as we have a situation where some students have also been allowed back to school. Covid-19 is still here with us and is a threat that we should not downplay,” Mr Roba said.

He regretted that mosques have relaxed rules, with the congregation not observing the required measures.

“I want to caution our people that, it is in the best interest of all, that we must maintain the same level of personal protection of hand washing, wearing of mask, social distancing and no shaking hands. We must be cautious of pandemic fatigue as the COVID-19 virus will not tire,” he said.

He added that his administration will conduct robust COVID-19 prevention measures in all schools that have resumed learning “and where necessary do testing of any suspected cases.”

The Governor called on residents to take up personal protection “to ensure we remain safe” and embrace testing as a way of knowing one’s status and reduce transmission.

The governor further lauded what he termed as “great effort” of medical personnel in battling the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said it is through medical personnel effort that Mandera County reduced the spillover of cases from Somalia through heightened surveillance along the porous border and contact tracing.

According to him, it is through their efforts that Madera emerged the best county in COVID-19 pandemic preparedness and response.

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