The Health ministry and Mandera Governor Ali Roba on Tuesday confirmed two cases of the Covid-19 disease in the county.
Governor Roba said the two – a man and a woman – returned from Europe and stayed in Kilifi before proceeding to Mandera.
“Previously, through surveillance, we picked up two international travellers who did not finish the mandatory 14-day quarantine before arriving in Mandera,” he said.
He said the two patients also passed through Eastleigh in Nairobi County, Mwingi in Kitui County, Garissa and Wajir before arriving in Elwak in Mandera on April 1.
“On April 5, at around 11.03am a call came through our county hotline from a private health facility, indicating the presence of two persons with flu-like symptoms and fever. Our response team picked up the persons and isolated them at the Mandera County Referral Hospital isolation facility,” the governor said.
The governor said the patients’ relatives and the two clinicians who attended to them at a private facility were also quarantined.
“Samples were collected and sent to Nairobi as patient management started. The results came this morning,” he told a press briefing of the two index cases.
The county boss urged all passengers who travelled aboard the Makka Bus on March 31 from Nairobi and arrived in Mandera on April 1 to present themselves to the nearest health facilities or to self-quarantine for 21 days.
“The patients were on seats number 13 and 14 of this bus. The county response team has embarked on contact tracing. We have the first 14 persons under quarantine,” he said, adding they were using the vehicle’s passenger manifest.
“The latest development confirms our fears of the reality of the possible spread of this disease through human traffic and reaffirms President Uhuru Kenyatta’s decision to cancel movement in and out of Nairobi as well as other counties,” he said.
However, Governor Roba expressed fears that the suspension of travel into and out of Nairobi will affect testing.
Buses that ply the Mandera-Nairobi route and planes that fly into Mandera suspended business a day after President Uhuru ordered the cessation of movement into and out of Nairobi, Mombasa, Kwale and Kilifi counties.
“Cancellation of all flights by the Kenya Airports Authority and the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority will affect us in having samples taken to Nairobi for testing and investigation,”Mr Roba said.
“Previously it took about four days to get results back in Mandera. We urge Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe to consider approving Kemri as a sample collection centre in Mandera now that flights have been banned.”
The governor further noted that the county will face major challenges with enforcement of social distancing especially in public transport.
Several medical services at the county referral facility have been suspended following confirmation of the two cases.
Mr Roba said they include outpatient, maternal and child health services, special outpatient clinics, elective surgeries and rehabilitative services such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy.
The services will now be offered at health centers including Khadija, Neboi and Shafshafey.