In Summary
  • Mr Kagwe and his team at the Health ministry should take charge of the centres and execute stringent rules.

It is quite deplorable that the quarantining centres are emerging as the new hubs for coronavirus infections.

Government statistics show that at least 15 per cent of new infections occur among those in the holding centres where travellers or those suspected to have been contact with infected people are being kept.

Which is the reason the government is directing that quarantining will henceforth take more than 14 days.

In itself, that is contestable. Extending quarantine period will force the individuals and families to incur extra expenditures they were never prepared for. That would be punitive, counter-intuitive and resentful.

Core to this is the fact that the centres are badly managed. Yet the government is putting in so much money to keep the people at these centres, which cash could be better used elsewhere to manage the pandemic.

There are two components to the matter. First is government’s bungling of the quarantine procedures. Second is lackadaisical and abhorrent behaviour of individuals at the centres.

TEST RESULTS
In the first place, it seems the government does not have any concrete plan for those under quarantine.

Some public institutions such as schools and colleges used as quarantine centres are in appalling conditions. Hostels, ablutions and dining areas are horrible.

Water and hygiene supplies are sorely lacking. Matters are not any different at the hotels where others are kept.

Individuals pay heavily but do not get commensurate service. They are fed on poor diet, clean their rooms and do everything for themselves as hotel staff are prohibited from attending to them for fear of infection.

Second, those under quarantine are supposed to be tested and given results within 24 hours. However, that never happens.

Results for tests that should take short a time come after four days or more.

Yet the reason for quick testing is to isolate those infected and separate them from those who are negative to minimise mass contagion.

MEDICAL PROTOCALS

Keeping everyone together for long heightens infections. However, the flipside is indiscipline among the populace.

Some of those quarantined do not appreciate or fathom the situation they are in. The centres are like holiday camps.

Individuals behave as they wish. Reports are emerging that some people throw parties, co-mingle and engage in merriment at the centres without care.

That is extremely reckless, which is what Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe has been livid about.

Mr Kagwe and his team at the Health ministry should take charge of the centres and execute stringent rules.

There must be clear stipulation about when tests are to be taken, and how long results are given. Medical protocols such as social distancing and hygiene have to be imposed.

Quarantine centres should be tightly managed but people treated with dignity.