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Kenya Procures 100K Body Bags In Preparedness For COVID-19 Peak

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The government on Sunday July 26 ordered for the procurement of 100,000 COVID-19 body bags, as Kenya prepares for what is described as a “worst-case” scenario.

The development comes as the country is heading to its peak and looking at a possible increase in the number of deaths from the coronavirus disease outbreak.

The numbers are as follows: 16,643 infections and 278 deaths. On Saturday July 25, an additional four patients succumbed to the virus in the past 24 hours.

Health CAS Rashid Aman during a past daily COVID-19 press briefing. Source: Twitter

A memo seen by the Sunday Nation from the Ministry of Health to Kenya Medical Supplies Agency indicates that the bags have to be doubled bagged and be made with heavy-duty vinyl Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic bag.

The bag, which is for the adult size, 40 by 90 inches of 0.4 millimeter thickness, must have an envelope zipper and should be preferably white in colour.

When the Sunday Nation contacted Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (KEMSA) chief executive Jonah Manjari Mwangi, he revealed that the agency is awaiting approval from the Ministry of Health to start the process of procuring the body bags.

“We are waiting for the authority to incur expenditure. Once we have the permission from the Ministry, then we shall procure the bags,” revealed Dr Mwangi.

Meanwhile World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that there will be many more “body bags” if countries did not behave asking them to stop politicising the pandemic and focus on containing the pandemic.

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaks during a daily press briefing on COVID-19 virus at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, March 9, 2020. Source: AFP

“Now is the time for unity, for the international community to work together in solidarity to stop this virus and its shattering consequences. We do not want to record more deaths,” the WHO chief urged.

Projections released by scientists reveal that the country is likely to lose 620,500 people by February 2021 if no sufficient measures are taken and the virus hits its peak.

The worst scenario defined that the model projects about two million Kenyans, that is 88 per cent of the population to be asymptomatic and about 356,000 people moderately affected by the virus.

On the severe side, 114,470 patients would require serious attention including the intensive care unit and ventilators during the same period, this is if the measures put in place by the government are relaxed.

“The projections are not fixed and are based on the current measures and how Kenyans are willing to adhere. Behaviour change will determine the change in the modelling as well,” added Prof Omu Anzala, a microbiologist, who was also part of the disease modelling.

Already, some counties have started preparing public graveyards in readiness for an anticipated spike in COVID-19 related deaths as virus infections soar.

In Kisii, Siaya, and Kakamega, leaders have already identified large swathes of land for the same.

The Kakamega governor revealed that his county had identified two parcels of land for mass graves.

In Kisii County, officials from the National Multi-Agency COVID-19 Command Centre visited last week to discuss with the county leadership about their preparedness to deal with surging fatalities. The team was informed that the county has set aside a 13-acre piece of land at Nyatieko in Kitutu Chache South to be used as a cemetery.

In Siaya, health executive Dorothy Owino said the county had purchased sufficient body bags. Land executive Adrian Ouma added that six acres have been set aside in Sega, four acres in Siaya town while Ugunja, Rarieda, Gem and Bondo sub-counties have one acre each.

The Laikipia County government has bought enough body bags to take care of a rise in deaths, Health executive Lenai Kamario told the Nation on Monday July 20, adding that the burial grounds were adequate.

Health CAS Rashid Aman on Monday July 20 warned of infections likely to peak in late August or early September ahead of a difficult period.

The gravity of the pandemic has jolted counties in the wake of the spiralling infections, with attention shifting to the worst scenario in which many lives maybe lost.

Council of Governors chairman Wycliffe Oparanya sounded a warning about the challenge ahead for counties, expressing fears that the number of deaths may rise.

Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya. Source: People Daily

However, as the numbers increase, a key national government official revealed to the Sunday Nation that only five counties are ready to handle the surge in the numbers.

The development came after President Uhuru Kenyatta sent his team quality control team to the ground to access counties preparedness.

Kiambu, Machakos, Mombasa Murang’a and Kakamega are so far the only counties ready to handle the spike in COVID-19 numbers.

This puts the remaining counties in an awkward state, hoodwinking Kenyans whom ironically are not implementing the directives set by the government.

In the last statement, Mr Oparanya mentioned that 26 counties were ready with the 300-bed capacity and requested the governors to give the numbers.

“The chair has now declared that each governor is going to defend themselves and he is not going to talk on their behalf as far as the bed capacity directive is concerned,” directed the official.

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