The border town receives at least 1,300 trucks a day, and already at least 5,000 tests have been undertaken
By Albert Lemomo
The Ministry of Health has announced its set plan to bring a mobile lab to Namanga border town, as it steps up Covid-19 surveillance in the country’s porous borders.
The ministry made the announcement through Ag Director General Dr Patrick Amoth, who led a team of health officials to the town, after nine truck drivers tested positive for the virus on Monday.
On the same day, five more truck drivers from the neighboring Tanzania were tested at the border and were thereafter denied entry into the country after they also tested positive for the virus.
“As a government, we have identified Namanga (town) as an area that needs close attention in monitoring and curbing the spread of Covid-19, due to its nature of being an entry point whereby most of our truck drivers are passing through to transport goods
“Therefore we are going to bring a mobile lab that can take up to 600 tests a day to ensure that we are testing more drivers and reduce the waiting time to get the results so that they can proceed to their destinations,” the director said.
The lab will also be used to test other members of the public, and those found to have contracted the disease will be taken to isolation centers to reduce further spread of the virus.
The move comes as a relief to the truck drivers who decried sluggish pace in the manner at which the exercise of testing and getting their results, was being conducted, further arguing that the time they spend finally leaves them counting unnecessary losses.
Charles Mkeke, a Tanzania truck driver told the Kajiado Star: “I have been in this border town for more than six days, and I have not yet completed my journey to deliver LPG gases to Nairobi.
“Every day I spent needless sums of money paying for lodgings, which themselves exposes us to further risk of getting infected, as one is never sure of the safety of those lodges.”
He, therefore, urged the relevant authorities to fast-track the exercise, so they can deliver their goods to their destinations on time.
Meantime, the Tanzanian authorities, in what could potentially spark a diplomatic tuff between the two countries, have expressed skepticism over the outcome of the testing on their citizens, saying that the Kenyan counterparts should have involved them in the exercise.
Longindo District Commissioner Frank Mwaisumbe claimed that his country is doubting how the exercise was conducted considering that there were no representatives from Tanzania who were involved in testing the Tanzanian truck drivers, hence they do not believe in the report provided by the health officials in Kenya.
“Madereva wetu wapimwe upande wetu wa Tanzania, wapewe certificate na Wizara ya Afya kwa upande wa Tanzania, na hizo certificate wazipeleke upande wa Kenya. Lakini haitawezekana kwamba Kenya, wao wenyewe wafanye hilo zoezi bila kuwepo na mwakilishi wowote wa serikali kwa upande wa Tanzania, kiini chake zoezi hilo litakuwa ni batili.”
However, Mr Amoth maintains that other nationals coming through Kenyan’s borders would have to be tasted, even if they were tested in their home countries.
“Kenya is among the first African countries to take steps to ensure that it tests its population to the required standards… We aim to defeat this disease early, and anyone who comes through our border will have to be tested even if they have been tested in the countries that they are coming from because we are confident that our testing processes are beyond reproach,” he said.
On his part, the Government Spokesperson Colonel (Rtd) Cyrus Oguna lauded the County Government of Kajiado for “leading” from the forefront in curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“As the National government, we are impressed by the County government actions to manufacture their masks through the technical institutes in the county as well as sanitizers because these items are in high demand currently therefore the supply needs to be constant.
“Such efforts complement those that National government is undertaking hence easing the burden for us to focus on manufacturing Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and other actions to combat the disease,” he noted.
The border town receives at least 1,300 trucks a day and already at least 5000 tests have been undertaken.
Kajiado County infections currently stand at 17 with 2 recoveries and 0 deaths