Kenyan Government heightens response on Omicron variant

The Omicron variant of covid-19 has seen the government  of Kenya put in place measures to protect the citizens from the deadly disease.

As the variant is still new, the World Health Organization is still conducting research to identify it’s severity and possibility of transmission. According to WHO, studies currently underway or underway shortly include assessments of transmissibility, severity of infection (including symptoms), performance of vaccines and diagnostic tests, and effectiveness of treatments.

The first case of the virus was first announced in the country on December 15, 2021. Speaking when he made the announcement,  Health cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said the government was on high alert to ensure that Kenyans stay safe from new infections of the Omicron variant of covid-19.

The CS noted: “We have been sequencing some of the samples that we have collected and can confirm that we have detected the Omicron variant among some of the travelers who have been travelling through Kenya. We have at least three cases so far,” he said, adding that there are many other samples that were being tested for the new variant.

Increased surveillance

Following the reporting of the three cases, the government of Kenya, through the Ministry of Health heightened surveillance at all points of entry, particularly the airports, requiring all those coming from countries with suspected Omicron cases to take the tests. “We started the process of ensuring that persons arriving in Kenya, especially from South Africa, get tested at the airport,” said Kagwe.

As the country continues with the vaccination drive, the Ministry of Health pointed out that inoculation against covid-19 could lessen the severity of the omicron variant. According to the Health CS, If one  has been vaccinated, the level of attack is a lot less and the need for hospitalization is limited. So far, the level of hospitalization is less than the the delta variant that we had recently,” he added.

By December 16th, there was no hospitalization case in the Kenyan health facilities. But sequencing is still ongoing to give a proper update on the variant. The ministry says the variant is being handled way better than the previous variants.

Counties preparedness

In Kenya, Health is a devolved function. As such, counties have a huge role to play in matters health policies within the devolved units. As the country deals with the new variant, the Council of Governors has been urged to be prepared for any eventualities. This includes ensuring adequate health infrastructure and human resources for health.

According to the Council of Governors in Kenya, the counties are ready. “Preparedness is always the best way to deal with these kinds of surprises. Our oxygen plants are functional and our ICU beds are ready,” said Martin Wambora, the Chairman of the Council of Governors.

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