Union reveals clinical officer in Nairobi is one of the coronavirus patients


Union reveals clinical officer in Nairobi is one of the coronavirus patients
Health workers at a facility in Nairobi. PHOTO| COURTESY

The Kenya Union of Clinical Workers is up in arms after one of their colleagues was revealed to have contracted coronavirus in the line of duty.

Speaking during a Press conference, Secretary General George Gibore expressed the union’s dismay over the handling of health workers’ preparedness in response to the pandemic.

“Today (Tuesday), the union has learnt that one of our colleagues who has contracted the novel coronavirus in the line of duty. She has been performing her duty in the outpatient section and in the clinic in her area of duty until she contracted the virus,” he said.

The SG added: “You can all understand the anguish she is going through knowing she may have infected her family members and other patients that she served.”

According to KUCO, the issue clinical workers is not being treated with the urgency and weight it deserves.

The clinical workers are demanding that the Health Ministry ensure that the protection of health workers is prioritized.

They noted that a proposal was presented to the ministry on March 23, 2020 urging protection of health workers through intensive training.

SHORTAGE OF PROTECTIVE GEAR FOR HEALTH WORKERS

KUCO are further pushing for provision of protective equipment; segregation of patients at triage as well as discouragement of patients who fall under the risk category from walking into the outpatient section.

They are proposing that such patients should instead call for the Rapid Response Team to pick them from their respective locations.

Four days ago, Reuters reported that nurses in Nairobi, Kakamega and Kilifi towns refused to treat suspected coronavirus patients because the government had not given them enough protective gear or training.

Nurses at Mbagathi Hospital in Nairobi went on a go-slow protest last week in protest at a lack of protective gear and training. They feared catching the disease and infecting their families, Panyako said.

“The government is not taking it seriously when health workers run away,” he said. “My clear message to the government … give them the protective equipment they need.”

Nurses in Kakamega and Kilifi are reported to have ran away when patients with coronavirus-like symptoms came to their hospitals over the past two weeks, Panyako said on Thursday.

Stop wearing masks if you’re not sick, WHO says

Only a fraction of Kenya’s estimated 100,000 healthcare workers had received any instruction in how to protect themselves, Seth Panyako, the secretary general of the Kenya National Union of Nurses, told Reuters.

Government spokesman Cyrus Oguna said he would check into the reports of the training and protective gear shortages.

Kenya had reported 50 cases of the coronavirus and one death as of Monday.

Panyako, whose union represents 30,000 health workers, said he had only heard of 1,200 staff getting training in how to protect themselves.

World Health Organization officials on Monday said they still recommend people not wear face masks unless they are sick with COVID-19 or caring for someone who is sick.

“We have a massive global shortage,” Ryan said about masks and other medical supplies. “Right now the people most at risk from this virus are frontline health workers who are exposed to the virus every second of every day. The thought of them not having masks is horrific.”

Additional report from Reuters and CNN

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