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Tharaka Nithi County COVID-19 Update

On behalf of Tharaka Nithi County Government, I wish to thank God for so far keeping us safe, today being the 18th day since the first case was reported, TNC has so far reported zero case, a status that we pray to God to continue keeping us free from this Pandemic.

I also thank our people for observing the curfew directives instilled by our President, by ensuring that we are at our houses by 7.00 pm save for the essential services providers.

As a county government, we closed all eateries within the county that previously hawked food, I thank our food vendors for observing this and reaffirming that the ban on hawking food has not yet been lifted, once we’re done with combating this pandemic, these important service providers will be back to business as the situation normalize.

I plead with our people to contain children at home as they have little know-how on the social actions that could lead to transmission of COVID-19 with their less observance to the social distancing.

I thank our people for being vigilant in our villages as we have constantly received reports of new visitors who are subsequently followed by health officials to ensure right measures are followed prior to Isolation, so far none has reached this stage.

We continue to offer sanitization services to our people at every corner of TNC and we continue to strategize with the emergency preparedness committee which I chair alongside the County Commissioner. In this important committee, we have come up with a raft of measures which we aim to implement and includes;-

a) Implore our people, that on entry points to Tharaka Nithi County(Thuchi, Keria,Tunyai,Ucweni) to oblige to the screening procedures which includes temperature screening and travel inquiries queries.

b) That due to uncertainty of the coming times and acknowledging that this infectious disease ain’t a death sentence, we may likely to have an upsurge in numbers that our hospitals across the county can not handle. Currently, the bed capacity for both public and private hospitals across the county stand at around 550 beds capacity, we have therefore gone ahead to identify schools in each Sub-County. Our Isolation centres across the county stand at; Chuka General 16beds, Marimanti 5beds, Kibung’a 4beds, Magutuni 5beds, Komarock 9beds, Chogoria 4beds, St. Ursula at Materi 5beds. Since the pandemic is quite infectious, and as we learn from countries like Italy, in the unfortunate event, we have set select schools and churches not only as Isolation centres but also as treatment centers.

c) Boda Boda service providers in collaboration with the county government, starting this Friday April 3rd, to discourage transporting any client without a mouth mask with them.

d) Discourage our people living in far urban areas from social interaction with the elderly at the villages, they thus could remain at their places of residence currently living.

Further to that, I direct with immediate effect;-

a) That the water service providers within our county not to disconnect water to our households at this critical period,

b) That taxation for food items across the county be waived with immediate effect including cess for vehicles transporting food items at our cess points till further notice.

I would also encourage information emanating from the public that may be of help to us on any alert about anyone exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. On the same note, we discourage by all means possible rumours or unconfirmed information peddled either through social media or conventional media. We have only limited the respective communication to the CEC public Health, Medical Services and Sanitation, Dr. Nthuraku or with delegated authority to the Chief Officer Public Health, Fridah for official communication or Myself. This would greatly curb instances of throwing our people to panic by unveiling unverified information to the public.

Tharaka Nithi County face similar challenges with other counties by the fact that testing for COVID-19 is only limited to few centres in Nairobi and the increase in the number of patients, the limited centres would thus be overwhelmed. I passionately appeal to tha National government through the Ministry of Health to fast track more testing centres first in our regional units (Formerly provinces) then to the counties and if possible to the respective treatment centers to expedite diagnosis there and then with more timely results in Kenya as a whole.

A huge budget is required for us to be fully ready as a county to combat this pandemic. We have so far an emergency Kshs 10M kitty and as per our projection, close to Kshs 78M will be required, this poses a challenge and thus appealing to the well wishers, Donors, NGOs to aid in kind or cash where cash donations will be wired to a special purpose account.

We thank the partners who greatly assisted us so far in this fight, to mention but a few;-

i) Village Hope Core, at Chogoria, for training our Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) and aids in Hand Washing facilities for use by our people,
ii) Redcross for aiding in capacity building for our CHVs,
iii)Afya Kamilisha, a faith based organisation based at Chuka for the availing PPEs and sanitizers for use by our medical personnel,
iv)Plan International for sensitisation and training our people in Tharaka North and South.

Through consultation with my cabinet today, we have agreed to have salary deductions for the purpose of combating this pandemic and I am happy to inform that the office of the Governor and the Deputy Governor as well as the CECs have agreed to have 30% and 20% salary deductions respectively for the next three months. On the same note, I urge willing public officers serving at the county level to selflessly devote to this course to help further combat this pandemic.

We have trained our health workers on the diagnosis and management of patients exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms and we encourage and pray with them as we offer maximum support. We have enough protective gears for the current situation we are in and will continue to add depending on the change of the situations then.

I continue to urge our people to decongest our referral hospitals (Chuka, Marimanti, Kibung’a and Magutuni) for the illnesses that could be managed at the dispensaries. This would ensure social distancing at our referral hospitals and further less exposure to COVID-19.

I commend the department of Health where the last three weeks, we have issued hand washing facilities to 65,534 households and fabricated bigger and commercial 50 hand washing facilities, these have been first placed at the bus stops and public institutions and market centers.

Lastly, our government has a fully dedicated ambulance for transportation of any patient with COVID-19 symptoms from any corner of Tharaka Nithi County to designated referral facility for this purpose. In addition, we have 6 motorbikes dedicated to Health department for close monitoring and management.

God bless us all.

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