March 28, 2021

List: New Covid-19 measures to tme the third wave

President Uhuru Kenyatta has declared the counties of Nairobi, Kajiado, Machakos, Kiambu, and Nakuru “disease infected areas” following the emergence of a third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He announced new measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the country as follows:

1. As 70 percent of Covid-19 cases come from five counties, Nairobi, Kajiado, Machakos, Kiambu, and Nakuru, they are now declared disease-infected areas. Cessation of all movement by road, rail, or air into and out of the disease-infected areas effective Sunday, March 28. 

2. All gatherings and in-person meetings of whatever nature in the zoned counties are suspended until further notice. All in-person cabinet meetings, with the exception of the National Security Council, are also suspended. 

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Source: The Standerd

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March 17, 2021

Covid vaccine: No serious side effects reported in Kenya, State says

Kenya’s Health ministry has said that it will continue rolling out the Covid-19 vaccine since serious adverse side effects arising from the jab have not been reported yet.

Out of the close to 20,000 people that have been vaccinated with the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine so far, only 40 people in the country are officially reported to have had side effects. This translates to less than 1 per cent of Kenyans reporting any side effects.

Kenya’s Vaccine Task force chair, Dr Willis Akhwale, says none of the reported cases required critical medical attention. 

“Most of the people whose data is with the Pharmacy and Poisons Board have reported headaches, fever and muscle pains,” he said at a briefing on Wednesday. 

“We will keep monitoring to look out for adverse effects if any,” he added.

Kenya’s stand on the vaccine is now in line with that of the World Health Organization, which says the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe for use.

Source: Nation

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March 16, 2021

Covid-19 vaccine rollout off to slow start as hesitancy grows

The Covid-19 vaccine being rolled out in Kenya appears to be receiving a lukewarm reception from health workers, teachers and security personnel.

In Kakamega, for instance, only two people have received the Oxford-Astrezeneca vaccine as per the count last week. Among reasons for cold reception include misinformation, disinformation, religious beliefs and lack of opinion shapers like the president taking the lead. Medics argue that they have not been involved in the roll-out of the vaccine.

Though medics have no qualms receiving the jab, some say they have not been sensitised on its efficacy while side effects like blood clots that have been reported in other countries have further raised concern over safety.

Out of the 1.2 million vaccines only about 10,000 frontline workers representing 0.08 per cent of the total vaccines distributed to Kenya under the Covax plan, have been vaccinated according to the Ministry of Health. Out of the batch 100,000 vaccines were a donation from India.

Kenya lags behind countries like Rwanda in the roll-out plan. The Ministry of Health has so far distributed the vaccine to 40 counties in the last one week. Leading the pack is Nairobi with 2,020 vaccines, Uasin Gishu 1,304, Kisumu 764, Nakuru 562 and Kiambu 379.

Source: The Standard

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March 9, 2021

Nairobi identifies 16 hospitals as Covid vaccination centers

Nairobi County has launched the first phase of Covid-19 vaccination which expected to be administered to high priority groups.

The launch was done Tuesday at the Mutuini Hospital in Dagoretti South.

The Health ministry has allocated 72,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine which will be given to healthcare workers, community health volunteers, security personnel and all staff working in hospitals.

About 5,000 healthcare workers drawn from public hospitals and another 22,496 from different private facilities are expected to voluntarily receive the jab.

Speaking during the launch, Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) boss Major General Mohamed Badi said that 16 hospitals have been identified as vaccination centres.

Source: Nation

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March 8, 2021

Nakuru county starts Covid-19 vaccination.

Nakuru County has this morning begun administering the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine to health workers.

The County Chief Nursing Officer, Virginia Ngenga, has said the vaccination exercise kicked off smoothly in the morning, at the Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital (PGH) approximating to vaccinate about 11,000 health care workers, county health management team, drivers, cleaners and other hospital employees.

Nakuru County received a total of 30,000 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, out of it, 3,000 doses will be supplied to Lanet Regional Military Hospital.

In a weeks’ time, about 500 employees will receive the jab.

“All employees have turned up for vaccination, an exercise that will be rolled out in other hospitals across the eleven sub-counties,” Ms Ngenga has said.

Acting County Director Public Health and Sanitation Elizabeth Kiptoo asked the public to continue observing Covid-19 containment measures, irrespective of the availability of the vaccine.

Source: The Standard

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March 7, 2021

Counties to start giving Covid-19 jabs this week

County governments will start administering the Covid-19 vaccine this week as governors meet on Wednesday to discuss modalities of distribution.

Council of Governors chair Martin Wambora, said they would meet with the Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe to agree on modalities of distribution and coverage.

“We have 11 agendas but the Covid-19 vaccination is one of the main concerns to us. We shall be tabling our own ideas as well which include alternatives (for other Covid-19 vaccines),” said Wambora.

CoG Health Committee chairman Anyang’ Nyong’o allayed fears that the vaccine was unsafe, saying the government cannot harm its people. “Therefore we urge Kenyans to stop spreading propaganda about the vaccine,”said Prof Nyongo.

Elsewhere, Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Mr Najib Balala said all workers in the hospitality industry are among those who will be vaccinated in the first phase.

Speaking at the Kilindini Cultural Centre, Mama Ngina Waterfront on Friday evening, Balala said he had informed the Cabinet of the need for staff in the hospitality industry to be classified as essential workers.

Source: The Standard

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March 6, 2021

Covid-19 vaccination exercise kicks off at KNH

Dr Kennedy Koech of the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) was yesterday among the first Kenyans to get the Covid-19 vaccine injection.

Dr Koech was in the first batch of 10 KNH staff selected for the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab from different departments of the facility, including dental, diagnostics, intensive care unit and security.

When the Saturday Standard caught up with him an hour after the injection, the maxillofacial surgeon said he did not feel any of the listed side effects.

The expected side effects are headache, pain on the injection site, redness and fever.

“It is not a painful injection. You hardly feel it, and by the time you do it is already done,” he said. “People should not be afraid.”

Koech said he is scheduled for a second dose in two months.

Source: The Standard

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March 5, 2021

Nairobi hospitals where Covid-19 vaccination will take place

Mama Lucy, Pumwani and Mbagathi hospitals are among 16 health facilities in Nairobi, where Covid-19 vaccination will be offered beginning next week.

Dr Josephine Kibaru-Mbae, the Health Services director of the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS), said on Friday that both public and private hospitals will be used.

Some of the other facilities that will be used are Kenyatta, Mathari, Armed Forces Memorial, Moi Airbase, National Spinal Injury and Kenyatta University Teaching and Referral hospitals.

The private and faith-based health facilities in the list are St Francis Community, Jamaa Mission, Coptic, Nairobi, Ruaraka’s Uhai Neema, Mater and Aga Khan hospitals.

“Once Nairobi receives its share of the vaccines, we shall launch the exercise next week. The immunisation process will start with the county’s main level four hospitals,” said Dr Kibaru-Mbae.

 

Source: Nation

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March 4, 2021

Why Covid jabs got cold reception at airport

What is the most delicate item you have ever carried? Eggs, perhaps?

While some of us have mastered the art of transporting eggs, the stakes associated with moving over one million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine are much higher.

The 1.02 million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine arrived in the country on Tuesday night.

First, despite the vaccines being intended for Kenyans, the country’s own airline could not fly them in. While receiving the vaccines at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said Kenya Airways had not been cleared to transport the life-saving shipment.

“As you know, we had to convert one of our 787 passenger plane to become a freighter. Now, we have gone through an audit with Unicef; we have signed a memorandum of understanding with Unicef so I believe going forward we can see KQ delivering these vaccines in the future,” Mr Macharia said.

Source: The Standard

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March 3, 2021

400,000 medics to be vaccinated from Friday

The government has released its roll-out plan of administering the first doses of the Covid-19 vaccine which arrived in the country on Tuesday night.

In a statement on Wednesday, Health CS Mutahi Kagwe said 400,000 healthcare workers countrywide as well as other essential service providers will receive the vaccine on Friday in phase one of the vaccination plan.

The CS maintained that 1.25 million Kenyans will receive a dose of the first batch of the Astrazeneca vaccine and politicians are not on the list.

This follows controversial claims on social media that politicians plan on jumping the queue to get access to Covid vaccines.

Kagwe dismissing the claims said, “The target population to be covered in this first phase remains 1.25 million and does not include politicians as erroneously reported in a section of the media today.”

“The vaccine is going to be distributed in our referral hospitals countrywide including level fours and threes. We are working with county governments to ensure seamless operation,” he said.

 

Source: The Star

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March 2, 2021

Kenya receives first batch of AstraZeneca vaccine

Just before midnight, 1.02 million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine arrived at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, in Nairobi.

The vaccines were transported by UNICEF as part of the COVAX facility, which aims to provide equitable access to vaccines for all countries around the world.

The vaccines arrived at 11.23 pm on Qatar Airways flight QR1341, which was met at the airport by senior Kenya Government officials led by the Health CS Mutahi Kagwe, UNICEF Representative to Kenya Maniza Zaman and World Health Organisation Representative to Kenya Dr Rudi Eggers.

“This is a historic day for Kenya, marking an important milestone in our fight against COVID-19,” Kagwe said.

“This has been made possible by the leadership of His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta and the hard work of the Ministry of Health. I would like to thank UNICEF, WHO and GAVI for their support in procuring and transporting these life-saving vaccines and the Kenyan people for their cooperation over the past 11.5 months.”

Source: The Star

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March 1, 2021

First Covid-19 vaccines to arrive in Kenya on Tuesday

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe has announced that the first consignment of the Covid-19 vaccine will arrive in the country on Tuesday.

Addressing the press in Nyeri on Sunday, Kagwe said the country is set to receive 1.02 million doses of Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccine on Tuesday and priority will be given to healthcare workers countrywide.

According to the CS, the 1.02 million doses will be the first batch of the 4.1 million expected with the country ultimately planning to import 24 million doses.

The vaccine will arrive in the country through Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (Covax) facility.

Healthcare workers in 47 counties are among the targeted group to receive the jab first.

“Healthcare workers and other frontline workers in 47 counties will receive the vaccine in the county referral hospitals,” said Kagwe.

Last week, the government said that the first batch of the vaccines will arrive in the country in the first week of March and would be administered in order of priority.

Source: Nairobi News

 

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February 28, 2021

Covid vaccine does not affect fertility but misinformation persists

Amy Taylor was chatting to friends over a Zoom drink when the conversation took an unexpected turn. One of the group – all in their early 30s, mostly university-educated and in professional jobs – mentioned that she had concerns about the Covid vaccine because she wanted to try for a baby in the next year or two.

“I was surprised when others said they were also a bit anxious. Then I started thinking maybe I should be worried too – even though I’m pro-vaccinations and I know this is the way out of the pandemic,” said Taylor*. “This really plays into the fertility insecurity that lots of women in their 30s have anyway – have I left it too late, will I need IVF, should I freeze my eggs? We don’t want anything else that could interfere with our chances of motherhood.”

Concern about fertility is one of the major drivers of vaccine hesitancy, despite explicit reassurances from doctors and scientists. The suggestion that Covid vaccinations could affect fertility was “nonsense”, Jonathan Van-Tam, England’s deputy chief medical officer, said on ITV’s Good Morning Britain last week. There was “no evidence at all that there are any issues in relation to planning a family or fertility,” he added.

 

Source: The Guardian

 

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February 27, 2021

Magufuli’s change of tune after Covid-19 strikes top government officials

After his radical defiance on Covid-19 and its containment measures, Tanzanian President John Magufuli has found himself in a lonely path with some of his top government officials succumbing to the virus.

While the rest of the world was struggling with the deadly virus, he brushed off any talk of coronavirus infections in Tanzania, insisting that divine intervention and local concoctions were enough for the citizens of the Swahili-speaking country.

Hitting out at friends and foes who dared to raise concerns or speculate on the presence of Covid-19 in Tanzania and its semi-autonomous Zanzibar Island.

While Tanzania masked its Covid-19 data creating a virtual dead spot with no statistics on the infections and deaths, the virus worked up its way into the corridors of power leading to the death of prominent figures and unmasking the actual situation.

Source: The Standard

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February 26, 2021

Here are the first people who will get Covid-19 jabs in Kenya next week

The government on Thursday said that the first batch of Covid-19 vaccines will arrive in the country in the first week of March and it will be given in order of priority.

Top on the list of those who will be vaccinated are healthcare workers, teachers, vulnerable persons, security personnel as well as employees of hospitality companies such as hotels.

“Cabinet ratified the distribution framework for the vaccines; with first priority being given to health care workers, frontline workers including security personnel and teachers, vulnerable persons and groups and hospitality sector workers,” a statement from State House read in part.

The statement, however, did not reveal the details of the type of vaccines or the quantity of the doses that will arrive next month.

Source: Nairobi News

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February 25, 2021

Why researchers support single Covid vaccine dose

Walking into a Covid-19 ward is a nightmare that can best be told by those who have tested positive and come out of it alive.

With the new developments in vaccines and some countries already administering jabs, shortages have been a glaring global issue.

Scientists now want a strategy that will help in limiting the stock-outs by giving just one dose, instead of two, to patients who have tested positive.

If their findings are viable after a peer-review and published in a scientific journal, then this plan will be a saviour.

Francis Ndung’u, an immunologist who was not part of the study, says this data is only limited to the two vaccines that are part of the study: Pfizer and Moderna.

“These considerations should not be to any vaccines – with the caution that data is only available for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for now,” he said.

Source: Nation

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February 24, 2021

WHO okays compensation fund for serious Covax vaccine side effects

People living in low- and middle-income countries like Kenya will be compensated if they develop adverse side effects from any of the vaccines delivered through the Covax facility.

This agreement paves way for countries to import vaccines from the Covax facility after the World Health Organisaton (WHO) issued a no-fault compensation plan for claims related to adverse effects from vaccines.

Tuesday the WHO agreed to cover claims of serious side effects that might be reported from the use of Covid-19 vaccines in any of the 92 advance market commitment countries receiving doses from the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (Covax) facility. These countries are mostly in Africa and Southeast Asia.

The agreement resolves a big concern among recipient governments which have been required to sign indemnity agreements before receiving the vaccines.

Source: Nation

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February 23, 2021

Inside plane that will ferry Covid vaccine doses to Kenya

At Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) is a plane that will make the maiden flight, carrying Covid-19 vaccine doses from India to Kenya.

The plane by Astral Aviation Ltd can fly home up to 25 million doses of the vaccine in a single trip.

An engineer at Astral tells HealthyNation their planes have the best modern technology to supply vaccines. 

“The B767-200 Freighter has special temperature controls that go up to  – 40 degrees Celsius. When the aircraft is flying high at 40,000 feet, the temperatures go up to – 60 degrees Celsius, but the inside of the plane remains warmer and, therefore, the pilots can adjust temperatures accordingly,” says engineer John Owuor, adding that they are putting final touches on their Boeing 767-200F ahead of the flight.

The plane that will make the maiden trip has thermal blankets used to cover vaccines when they are being moved to storage facilities upon arrival, so that the temperature does not drop.

Source: Nation

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February 22, 2021

Private Companies to Import Covid-19 Vaccines

The Health Ministry will allow some private pharmaceutical companies to import coronavirus vaccines to compliment government efforts.

According to the ministry, discussions are underway with the Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB) to issue the companies a conditional market authorisation in a bid to bridge access gap and increase the number of doses in the country.

Speaking at a virtual meeting hosted by the Kenya Medical Association (KMA), Covid-19 vaccine advisory taskforce Chairman Willis Akhwale said the government will monitor the prices and regulate the entire process. 

The world has been using vaccines licensed through an emergency use authorisation (EUA), a mechanism that facilitates the availability and use of medical commodities like vaccines during public health emergencies such as the current Covid-19 pandemic. This authorisation opens the door for countries to expedite their own regulatory approval processes to import and administer the vaccine.

Source: Nation

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February 21, 2021

EACC probes five counties over Covid-19 funds misuse

The EACC is investigating five county governments for alleged misappropriation of millions of shillings meant to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

The anti-graft body is also probing at least 12 devolved units that  created room for tenderpreneurs to thrive.

The EACC is investigating five county governments for alleged misappropriation of millions of shillings meant to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

The anti-graft body is also probing at least 12 devolved units that breached procurement laws and legal provisions that created room for tenderpreneurs to thrive.

The probe comes barely two weeks after Auditor General Nancy Gathungu released a report indicting several counties for ignoring procedures and laws in procurement for Covid-19 items.

Source: The Standard

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February 20, 2021

Bars and eateries get Sh330 million Covid-19 safety training

Owners, operators, and staff of 1,312 bars and eateries across the country have so far been trained on COVID-19 safety protocols as the country gears towards full economic recovery.

Kenya Breweries officially rolled out the Sh330 million program dubbed ‘Raising the Bar with Tusker’ in December 2020.

The training has been conducted in Mombasa, Kilifi, Kwale, Taita Taveta, Makueni, Nyeri, Murang’a, Kiambu, Samburu, Nakuru, Kericho, and Baringo counties.

Speaking during a training event held in Mweiga in Kieni Sub-County in Nyeri, AMREF Programs Manager Lenah Kanyagi said the firm is working alongside Kenya Breweries Limited to enhance awareness among bars and eateries for vibrant businesses and safe workplaces for the staff and clients.

Source: The Standard

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February 19, 2021

Covid-19 lights up Nairobi cycling craze

Nairobi, morning rush hour: the only cyclist on a busy highway, Steven Odhiambo is narrowly overtaken by a fast-moving minibus. 

“It’s just a jungle, just fighting for your space on the road,” says the 30-year-old video editor, who picked up cycling again at the onset of the pandemic after 20 years without a pedal stroke.

It is a risky business but since the outbreak of the coronavirus, Odhiambo has avoided crowded public transport and taken his chances on two wheels navigating the hectic roads of the Kenyan capital.

The other choice is cramming into a ‘matatu’: colourfully painted minibuses jammed with some 15 commuters that hurtle around the city streets.

“I am much safer on a bicycle,” said Odhiambo, adding that he was able to social distancing, and travel faster because he’s not stuck in traffic.

Source: Nation

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February 18, 2021

Researchers urge delay in administering Pfizer vaccine’s second dose, cite strong data

Researchers on Wednesday urged governments to delay administering the second dose of Pfizer Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine, which they said had an efficacy of 92.6% after the first dose.

The researchers, Danuta Skowronski and Gaston De Serres, said their findings were derived from Pfizer’s documents submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

These findings were also similar to the first-dose efficacy of 92.1% reported for Moderna Inc’s mRNA-1273 vaccine, Skowronski and De Serres said in their letter published here in the New England Journal of Medicine.

They cautioned that there may be uncertainty about the duration of protection with a single dose, but said that the administration of the second dose a month after the first provided “little added benefit in the short term”.

Source: The Standard

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February 17, 2021

South Africa to give first Covid-19 vaccine doses to president, health workers

South Africa will administer its first COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday, with President Cyril Ramaphosa to get the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) shot alongside health workers.

The first shot will be given at Khayelitsha District Hospital in Cape Town this afternoon, the government said.

Ramaphosa said in a statement that 80,000 J&J doses were being prepared for distribution across the country and that he would be inoculated to demonstrate his government’s confidence in the vaccine.

The J&J vaccine is being rolled out initially as a research study to further evaluate it in the field, with up to 500,000 health workers set to be immunised.

Source: The Standard

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February 16, 2021

Why you must be over 18 to get Covid-19 vaccine

As an average Kenyan without any underlying condition, chances are you might get your shot in 2023 as the Ministry of Health prioritises about 16 million people for at least one dose of a Covid vaccine, with the programme scheduled to start by end of February or early March.

One vaccine – developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca – has been highly considered for use to protect people against serious illness and death from Covid-19.

According to Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (Covax), Kenya is set to receive 4.2 million doses (4,176,000 doses to be exact). It’s not yet clear which other vaccines the government intends to deploy, though its officials have said the country will use a hybrid system of vaccination.

Source: Nation

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February 15, 2021

WHO lists two additional Covid jabs for emergency use

World Health Organisation (WHO) has listed two versions of the AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use.

The move communicated on Monday gives the green light for the vaccines to be rolled out globally through COVAX.

The vaccines are produced by AstraZeneca-SKBio (Republic of Korea) and the Serum Institute of India.

WHO’s Emergency Use Listing (EUL) assesses the quality, safety, and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines and is a prerequisite for COVAX Facility vaccine supply.

It also allows countries to expedite their own regulatory approval to import and administer Covid-19 vaccines.

“Countries with no access to vaccines to date will finally be able to start vaccinating their health workers and populations at risk, contributing to the COVAX Facility’s goal of equitable vaccine distribution,” said Dr. Mariangela Simao, WHO Assistant-Director General for Access to Medicines and Health Products.

Source: The Star

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February 14, 2021

What Covid jab? Better be of age

Interim guidelines by the World Health Organization for use of a vaccine against Covid-19 developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca are discouraging vaccination of those aged below 18.

The guidelines, released yesterday, follow a trend in which most of the vaccine candidates, including those by Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca, have been approved for emergency use in adult populations.

Pfizer’s vaccine has been authorised for use in ages 16 and above while Moderna’s offer is currently authorised for ages 18 and above. Both companies have begun clinical trials for younger populations.

This means there is currently no Covid-19 vaccine efficacy or safety data for children or adolescents below the age of 18 years.

“Until such data are available, vaccination of individuals below 18 years of age is not recommended,” warns the International Health Agency.

Source: Nation

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February 13, 2021

What Covid-19 has taught the world on data.

The Covid-19 pandemic has been more far-reaching and devastating than even loss of lives, jobs and economic growth would suggest. It has worsened poverty, childhood malnutrition, and domestic violence and halted or reversed gains made in nearly half of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Many people, including mothers and young children, have died not from the virus, but because of disruptions and delays in care. Up to a decade of progress against HIV, tuberculosis, malaria has been erased.

Hospitals, clinics, and other health care organisations have faced huge challenges that will persist long after the pandemic. The crisis has created long-term uncertainty in staffing, funding, and operational issues. The World Health Organisation reports that nearly all lower and medium-income countries (LMICs) reported disruptions to essential health services. Its economic consequences, such as rising poverty, increased demand for services, the nature of which shifted as the willingness to travel long distances for medical care plummeted, accompanied by other behaviour changes.

Source: The Standard

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February 12, 2021

Don’t let Long Covid ‘fall through the cracks’, WHO warns.

The World Health Organization called Tuesday for greater research, recognition and rehabilitation for Long Covid sufferers as it brought experts together to share insights into the little-understood condition.

The WHO held the first in a planned series of seminars aimed at expanding understanding of post-Covid conditions, which heard not only from scientists and doctors but also from sufferers themselves.

Little is known about why some people, after coming through the acute phase of Covid-19, struggle to recover and suffer ongoing symptoms including tiredness and brain fog as well as cardiac and neurological disorders.

Source: Nation

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February 11, 2021

Why Covid measures could still be in place for 2022 World Cup.

Fifa president Gianni Infantino said for the first time Thursday coronavirus containment measures could still be in place during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar but he insisted stadiums would be full.

In an interview with AFP ahead of the Club World Cup final he also suggested Fifa could “concretely” help travelling fans from countries where vaccine rollout has been slow or had not yet begun.

“Maybe some precautionary measures have to be taken,” he said in the Qatari capital Doha, where Bayern Munich face Mexican side Tigres on Thursday.

“We need to see how the situation looks by then. It’s very difficult to foresee now.
“It will take a little bit of time, and we have two years of time to come back to some sort of normality.”

 

 

Source: Nation

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February 10, 2021

Kenya needs to revamp its genome sequencing to pick Covid variants early, experts advises.

Kenya needs to analyse its coronavirus variants circulating in the country and check if they are covered by the available vaccines, a virologist has advised.

South Africa Monday announced that it would temporarily suspend using Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine (commonly referred to as AZ or AstraZeneca) and instead deploy ones by Johnson and Johnson and Pfizer-BioNTech after a study showed that the AstraZeneca shot was not effective in preventing mild to moderate illness from the variant dominant in the country.

Although Dr Moses Masika, a virologist at the University of Nairobi, noted that for now it would be premature for the country to follow South Africa’s steps and pause the use of AZ vaccine, he said there was need to do deep local investigations to understand the extent of the spread of the variants dominant in South Africa (B.1.351 also called the 501Y.V2) and United Kingdom (named B117).

 

Source: Nation

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February 9, 2021

Hospital admissions over Covid-19 drop.

The number of Covid-19 hospital admissions across the country has drastically dropped in the past month, according to data from the Ministry of Health.

Yesterday, the ministry reported 384 patients were admitted in hospitals across the country.

Unlike in the past where the number of patients in need of specialised care was high, there were 39 patients in intensive care units (ICUs).

“… 15 of whom are on ventilatory support and 20 on supplementary oxygen. Four patients are under observation,” the ministry said in a statement yesterday.

“Another 13 patients are separately on supplementary oxygen and all of them are in the general wards.”

Source: The Standard

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February 8, 2021

Batuk military base on lockdown amid new virus fears.

A British military base in Nanyuki was placed on total lockdown on Monday after fears spread that soldiers who arrived in the country last week might have come with the new variant of the coronavirus.

The new strain, first recorded in the UK on December 14 and reported to be 70 percent more transmissible than the one in Kenya, has been blamed for harsher Covid-19 restrictions and travel bans in London.

“Batuk (British Army Training Unit in Kenya) camp has been placed into enhanced isolation after a very small number of soldiers tested positive for Covid-19,” the British High Commission in Nairobi said in a statement without giving absolute numbers.

Source: Nation

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February 4, 2021

Things looking up for athletics despite Covid challenges

I like the way things are shaping up in the athletics circles amid hope that Covid-19 will soon be a thing of the past.

We all agree that things have been tough for athletes in the last one year, owing to the coronavirus pandemic, and with events in full gear at the moment, we can only hope for the best.

 For the last few weeks, we have had cross country at various points and I must say things are shaping up nicely.

The National Police Service Cross Country Championships and the Kenya Defence Forces meet were the latest events and whatever happened gives us hope again as a country that things will go back to normal sooner than earlier anticipated.

Source: Nation

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February 3, 2021

Time out of school takes its toll on learning

Nine months out of school caused learning setbacks across the board, a national assessment has shown.

Despite the setbacks – caused by Covid-19 school closure – private schools did better than public institutions, urban schools outdid private ones and girls outshone boys in all aspects of the new curriculum.

 The performance is reflected in a Kenya National Examination Council national assessment conducted in October.

The Knec said the low skills levels can be attributed to lack of face-to-face learning while schools were closed. They closed in mid-march and reopened in early January.

The tests were administered to determine how much of a setback was suffered and identify areas where interventions are necessary and how to address shortcomings.

Source: The Star

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January 31, 2021

Africa’s second wave could be associated with emergence of new variants: Africa CDC

The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) has noted that the ongoing second wave Covid-19 infections could be associated with the emergence of variants that are more transmissible.

“Africa is currently experiencing an increase in the number of confirmed Covid19 cases,” the African Union (AU) Commission’s specialized healthcare agency said in its latest publication on Saturday.

 At least 40 countries have experienced a second wave of the pandemic as of January 27, including all countries in the Southern Africa region, the Africa CDC said.

“This new wave of infections is thought to be associated with the emergence of variants that are more transmissible,” the Africa CDC said.

Source: Nation

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January 28, 2021

Kiambu upgrading health facilities in heightened war on diseases

The Kiambu government has prioritised the improvement of health facilities to promote quality care.

It is equipping hospitals and improving infrastructure to ensure residents and visitors get proper services. The sector has been grappling with myriad challenges ranging from influx of patients from neighbouring counties, inadequate medical personnel to a shortage of drugs—which jointly undermine services.

Since Governor James Nyoro was sworn in in 2019, the county has completed several new hospitals and others are under construction. He has put a premium on equipping and upgrading health centres to end the influx of patients into level 4 and 5 hospitals.

Source: The Star

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January 26, 2021

Moderna says Covid vaccine effective against UK, S. Africa variants

US biotechnology firm Moderna on Monday said lab studies showed its Covid-19 vaccine would remain protective against variants of the coronavirus first identified in the United Kingdom and South Africa.

But out of caution, the company will test adding a second booster of its vaccine — to make three shots in total — and has begun preclinical studies on a booster specifically for the South African variant.

 “We are encouraged by these new data, which reinforce our confidence that the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine should be protective against these newly detected variants,” said Stephane Bancel, Moderna’s CEO.

Source: Nation

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January 25, 2021

Only 39 per cent of deaths reported last year, says state

The number of deaths that were recorded by the Department of Civil Registration Services in 2020 stands at 39 per cent.

The department has termed the number as too low, noting that tens of deaths from Covid-19 last year could have gone unrecorded.

To address this, the CRS, Ministry of Health and WHO have launched a Rapid Mortality Survey in six pilot counties to establish the number of deaths caused by the virus.

The CRS has embarked on a training campaign targeting members of the provincial administration who record deaths at grassroots level.

CRS secretary Janet Mucheru said the exact number of people who died in the country from the pandemic was not known.

Source: The Star

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January 24, 2021

What you need to know ahead of the vaccine rollout

News of a vaccine coming into the country in the next few weeks is probably the most refreshing information that reached Kenyans’ ears at the onset of 2021.

The Ministry of Health announced that AstraZeneca would be in the country in February, shining a ray of hope after months of suffering in the hands of a fast-spreading coronavirus.

It might not only be AtsraZeneca as Health Cabinet Secretary  Mutai Kagwe said. Other vaccines may arrive before mid-Febrary.

Source: The Standard

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January 22, 2021

Covid restrictions fuelling illicit trade in the region

Lack of harmonised systems at the borders is fuelling illicit trade in the region, the East African Business Council (EABC) has warned.

While cross border trade among the East African Community (EAC) member states has high potential, the different approaches in handling Covid-19 tests, clearance of goods and movement of persons is proving to be a barrier.

This is affecting intra-EAC trade which is at a low of 13 per cent, compared to common markets such as the EU which is at 67 per cent.

Traders and truck drivers are parting with $100 (Sh10,980) to get tested at Tanzania and Burundi borders, between $30-$50 (Sh3, 294-Sh 5, 490) in Uganda, up to $60 (Sh6,588) for Rwanda, while in Kenya, the charges vary and can go up to Sh10,000

Source: The Star

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January 20, 2021

Bungoma Nurses suspend strike, agree to negotiate with county government

Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) Bungoma Branch on Wednesday agreed to suspend the nurses’ strike to give room for further negotiations with the county government. 

Addressing the media at the county headquarters after hours of closed-door discussions, the nurses who have been on strike since December 7, 2020, agreed to recall all nurses to their stations in the next 48 hours.

 Bungoma governor Wycliffe Wangamati thanked the leadership of KNUN for their bold move that informed their decision to resume duty.
 
He attributed this breakthrough to the good working relationship that his administration has with the medical workers, noting the fact that salaries were paid even in the months that they were not at work.

Source: Nation

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January 18, 2021

President urges striking medics to return to work

President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday appeared to rule out a possible settlement of grievances with the health workers on strike.

In his interview with four Kikuyu radio stations, the Head of State appeared to imply that public sector medics earned more than their counterparts in private and mission hospitals

“I want the media to investigate this aspect and bring it out for the public to judge us objectively,” Uhuru said.

He added that the grievances raised were by medics at the county government level, as national government-run hospitals were not affected by the strike.

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January 17, 2021

Covid contact tracing made easy by tech

Contact tracing for suspected Covid-19 cases has never been this easy thanks to technology, says Dr Patrick Amoth, director-general in the Ministry of Health.

The ministry is using Jitenge app to do contact tracing. The app that was developed in Kenya in June last year allows health officials to track a person’s movements and who they come into contact with, giving officials a vital tool for limiting contagion risks.

 Jitenge, a Kiswahili word for self-isolate, is an innovation of mHealth Kenya developed as a module of the Emergency Alert and Reporting System (EARS) used by the Ministry of Health’s Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) to respond to infectious diseases.

Source: Nation

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January 16, 2021

Hoteliers urged to apply for tourism stimulus funds

Tourism Principal Secretary Safina Kwekwe has urged hoteliers to apply for the tourism economic stimulus fund.

The government last year set aside Sh3 billion to help cushion tourism entities from the impact of Covid-19 which continues to ravage the economy, with travel and tourism  being the most hit sector in the country.

The funds are to be extended in form of soft loans, administered through the Tourism Finance Corporation(TFC).

The package is aimed at stimulating hotels’ operations and enhance renovations as a way of reviving the sector.

Sh1.8 billion is targeted at the coast region, a leading holiday beach destination, with Sh1.2 billion going to other regions.

Source: The Star

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January 15, 2021

German Embassy partners resource center to fight Covid- 19 in Mathere slums

Residents of Mathare slums in Nairobi on Thursday benefitted from free facemasks and handwashing soaps from the German Embassy in Nairobi in partnership with Billian Music Family, a resource and leadership center.

Three primary schools, a health centre and small business owners within the densely populated informal settlement were among the beneficiaries of these essential items.

 Daystar Junior Academy, Why Not Academy, Maji Mazuri, Uzima White Medical Clinic and small business owners received more than 500 masks and 10 litres of liquid soap.

Billian Ojiwa, the founder of the resource center, has been partnering with different organisations to provide the essential items in the fight against Covid-19.

Source: Nation

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January 13, 2021

Why state won’t relax virus containment measures just yet

The government might not relax the Covid-19 containment measures soon, the Health Ministry has disclosed.

During the daily Covid update at Kenyatta University Teaching and Referral Hospital on Wednesday, Kagwe said despite the positivity rate being relatively low in the past few weeks, the government is putting into consideration other factors such as the reopening of schools.

“Under normal circumstances, and given the positivity rate we have been experiencing over the last one or two weeks, we would be thinking about declaration of a flattened curve,” Kagwe said.

“However we cannot do so at the moment because we have not quite taken into consideration the impact of the holiday season as well as the effects of reopening of our schools so for now we will be retaining the containment measures that we have such as the curfew,” he added.

Source: The Star

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January 11, 2021

Kenya says 93% of its Covid- 19 cases are asymptomatic

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said of the 98,334 coronavirus cases reported in the country since March, most of them are asymptomatic.

Kenya has recorded a significant decline in the virus cases in recent weeks, as it seeks to return to nomalcy with the reopening of schools last week.

On Monday, Kagwe said 63 new cases were detected from a sample size of 2,134.

Kagwe said 3 more patients had succumed to the virus, raising fatalities in the country to 1,713.

He said 226 patients had recovered from the virus, among the them 221 on the Home-Based Care and 5 from various hospitals across the country raising recoveries to 81,101.

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January 10, 2021

Covid- 19 has killed 32 health workers in  Kenya: ministry

The Covid-19 pandemic has killed 32 health workers in Kenya since it struck the country last March, the Health ministry reported on Sunday.

In his daily status report, Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said a total of 3,068 health workers have tested positive so far, 1,571 of them female and the rest male.

 

CS Kagwe also announced that the country’s Covid-19 death toll had increased by six to 1,710.

Meanwhile, Kenya on Sunday recorded 87 new cases of the disease following analysis of 3,766 samples in the past 24 hours, raising the number of cases since March 13, 2020 to 98,271.

A total of 1,092,144 samples have been tested so far.

Source: Nation

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January 9, 2021

You will now need digitally verified Covid- 19 certificates to travel 

Kenya has begun digital verification of Covid-19 certificates, the Health CS has said.

Starting Monday, January 11, 2021, no traveller will depart from Kenya without verification of their certificates using the Trusted Travel process.

 No labs are permitted to issue Covid-19 certificates without Trusted Travel codes from today, January 9, 2021.

In a statement on Friday, CS Mutahi Kagwe said the Covid-19 pandemic has adversely affected global travel, impacting negatively on trade, tourism and other economic activities.

To mitigate against these effects and to allow for economic activities dependent on international travel, many governments are requiring travellers to present negative Covid-19 certificates t various ports of entry.

Source: The Standard

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January 8, 2021

Covid to cut Co-op profit as topline growth steady

Co-operative Bank of Kenya is projecting a sustained growth in interest income but a material fall in full year net profits for last year on higher provisions for loan defaults.

The lender, which has sustained profits above Sh10 billion since 2015, says ongoing Covid-19 scourge has continued to cause massive disruption on households and businesses and this will require increased loan loss provisioning to reflect this.

“We continue to actively engage our customers to support them through this difficult period, by re-aligning the servicing of loan facilities, their funding and transactional needs as the situation unfolds.

“Loan loss provisions have been much higher than in the previous year in appreciation of the challenges that businesses and households continue to grapple with in meeting their obligations to the bank,” said the lender yesterday.

Source: Nation

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January 7, 2021

Medics to begin strike after CoG rejects deal

Clinical officers will down their tools today after governors failed to implement the return-to-work formula they signed with the Ministry of Health last week.

Council of Governors (CoG) Chairman Wycliffe Oparanya rejected the deal that ended the strike by clinical officers that had paralysed health services in the country for 26 days in December, 2020.

Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (Kuco) Secretary General George Gibore, who issued the strike notice, accused Oparanya of being “insincere and unrealistic”.

Gibore said clinical officers were going on strike because of lack of goodwill and commitment from CoG.

Source: The Standard

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January 6, 2021

Rights group lose plea on detention of patients over Covid bills

The High Court has thrown out an application by two rights advocacy groups seeking to restrain the Ministry of Health from detaining individuals who are unable to pay the costs of testing, isolation and treatment for Covid-19 incurred in public hospitals.

The Kenya Legal and Ethical Issues Networking on HIV/Aids (Kelin) and the Katiba Institute wanted the order to be directed to Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe and the Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral and Research Hospital (KUTRRH).

 The groups moved to court in October last year on behalf of two individuals whose medical bills amounting to Sh108,000 they claim the government failed to settle. They claimed the two individuals were detained at KUTRRH after they were unable to clear the bills.

Source: Nation

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January 5, 2021

Eighty per cent of learners back in school

Eighty per cent of learners had reported back to school by Tuesday, Education CS George Magoha has said. 

“Reports that only 50 per cent of students reported to school are untrue. The rate of reporting is very good, and I hope by Thursday, all students will be back to school to continue with the journey,” the CS said.

Magoha said, however, Coast and Northeastern regions recorded low student reporting rates. He said those still at home should be persuaded to go back to school.

Schools were reopened for face-to-face learning in all classes on Monday after a nine-month closure due to Covid-19.

Source: The Star

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December 31, 2020

Covid brought out our Shame

This is how one of America’s leading newspapers, The Washington Post, reported this story recently: “About a week before Christmas, an 82-year-old Hispanic man sickened with the coronavirus leaned on his Catholic faith and began to pray in his Southern California hospital room.

“For reasons that remain unclear to authorities, this act angered his 37-year-old roommate, Jesse Martinez, who was also being treated for Covid-19 at Antelope Valley Hospital in Lancaster, Calif. Moments later on the morning of Dec. 17, Martinez allegedly grabbed an oxygen tank and bludgeoned the elderly man, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The man died the next day, not from a virus that’s killed more than 325,000 Americans but from a fellow Covid patient in his own hospital room.”

 

Source: Nation

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December 30, 2020

Ignore politics, schools will reopen on Monday- Magoha 

Education CS George Magoha has reiterated that schools will be reopened next Monday despite growing resistance from a section of stakeholders.

Magoha, who spoke while inspecting Mjini Primary School in Murang’a town on Wednesday, said there is nothing that will block the reopening of schools.

Magoha asked parents to prepare their children for the resumption of learning, saying the government is doing everything possible to ensure schools are conducive for learning.

“Schools will reopen on Monday. We must stop listening to toxic politics. We are not politicians, we are workers and our children do not belong to any political party,” he said.

The government, he noted, anticipates social distancing challenges once learning institutions reopen but added that that will not deter its efforts.

Source: The Star

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December 29, 2020

County revenue collections fall Sh1.9bn on Covid woes 

Internal revenue collection for counties in the three months to September fell Sh1.86 billion compared to a similar period last year in the wake of the Covid19 that disrupted businesses and led to travel bans.

Controller of Budget (CoB) data shows that the devolved units raised Sh5.85 billion in the period under review down from Sh7.71 billion in three months to September last year.

 The report shows none of the counties raised at least a quarter of its annual own-source revenue (OSR) target increasing fears that they will once again miss on their ambitious revenue targets for the year to next June.

The fall came in the wake of Covid-19 restrictions that forced motorists to stay home and banned foreign and international flights.

Source: Nation

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December 28, 2020

Magoha reveals one million masks shortage ahead of schools’ re-opening next week

Education Cabinet Secretary Prof George Magoha now says his ministry is facing a shortage of one million face masks to be provided to children from poor backgrounds ahead of schools’ re-opening next Monday.

The masks are meant for children whose parents cannot afford the safety gear.

“Out of the three million children identified by the government, we have already supplied close to one million to Grade Four, Eight and Form Four candidates who reported to schools, while Rivatex has already given us another one million,” he revealed.

Speaking on Monday while assessing the preparedness of schools in Seme, Kisumu County, Prof Magoha vowed that the government would do everything to bridge the gap.

Source: Nation

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December 27, 2020

Infrastructure projects help to shore up jobs

Public spending on infrastructure projects helped shore up jobs adversely hit by the Covid-19 pandemic in the past nine months.

According to a year-end review by the National Construction Authority (NCA), the 27 kilometre Nairobi expressway sustained 3,000 jobs.

A further Sh1.4 billion injected into upgrading and expansion of fresh produce market across Nairobi opened up new job opportunities for builders and material suppliers.

NCA Executive Director Maurice Aketch said since the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) undertook 32 road projects with Kenya Railways upgrading the Nairobi commuter facility thereby creating hundreds of jobs for skilled and unskilled artisans.

“The expressway employs about 3,000 workers during its construction and will employ about 500 workers during operation. We formulated health operational procedures at construction sites thereby saving jobs and securing investments during this era of Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

Source: Nation

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December 22, 2020

Hope for Kenyan Hoteliers as Government orders 24 million doses of Covid- 19 vaccine

Local hoteliers lead by Kenya Coast Hoteliers Working Group Chair, Hasnain Noorani have applauded government’s intention to secure 24 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines worth Sh10 billion from Gavi Alliance which is expected in early next year. Players in the industry hope they will be among the first beneficiaries of the vaccine.

“These promising developments on the vaccine front have sparked optimism to hoteliers that the pandemic’s end may be in sight. But if the market trends that immediately followed positive vaccine news are any indication, hospitality and travel industry sectors in Kenya and beyond will benefit a lot more than others,” said Hasnain Noorani, Managing Director for PrideInn Hotel Group

The travel and hospitality sector has so far been one of the biggest casualties of the pandemic since the beginning the year.

“Countries will now feel comfortable opening their borders to vacationers once that vaccine is rolled out,” added Hasnain.

Source: Capital FM

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December 21, 2020

Why WTO should suspend intellectual property protection for Covid- 19 Vaccines

Behind the great and calming news of Covid-19 vaccine, there is a raging battle between the rich and poor countries over the intellectual property (IP) which is being seen as a barrier to development or distribution of Covid vaccines and treatments.

Already, India and South Africa have petitioned the World Trade Organisation, (WTO) for a temporary suspension of intellectual property protection for all Covid-19 vaccines and related technologies.

 Several other countries including Kenya and Eswatini are also supporting the petition with the hope of lowering the cost of the vaccine for their citizens. And some researchers from the advanced countries are also supporting this initiative saying that it would be immoral to unnecessarily force the poor countries to buy the vaccines at an exorbitant price.
 

Source: Nation

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December 20, 2020

Bones may overtake lemons as the new Covid- 19 cash cow

Beef bones, disliked for tipping the weighing scale, are now overtaking the tenderloin steak in sales.

Thanks to Covid-19 and a growing conviction in the healing benefits of bone soup, butchers in Meru are unable to satisfy the demands of their customers.

Bones are sought after for their marrow, used to make a savoury, nutrient-dense, and collagen-rich broth.

Daniel Kimaita, head of the Meru county reproductive health services, told the Star bone soup is rich in irons, and other minerals that boost immunity.

He said it is not surprising that people are turning to bone soup when the country is fighting Covid-19.

Source: The Star

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December 18, 2020

Nyamira Governor John Nyamira die in Nairobi

Nyamira Governor John Obiero Nyagarama, 74, died early Friday at the Nairobi Hospital intensive care unit (ICU),  where he had been admitted for more than a month.

Reports indicated that the governor suffered Covid-19 complications. His family told the Nation that he had breathing problems after his lungs collapsed.

 Governor Nyagarama had been leading campaigns aimed at curbing the virus in his county, urging residents to follow guidelines issued by the government through the Health ministry.

Nyamira Deputy Governor Amos Nyaribo contracted Covid-19 at the beginning of November and was treated at various hospitals in Nairobi for three weeks.

Nyagarama’s first wife, Dorcas Sigara, died in 1998, leaving him with 10 children. His eldest son, George Ndemo Nyagarama died on June 11, 2018 after a long illness.

Source: Nation

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December 17, 2020

CBK announces end of free M-Pesa transfer of Sh 1,000

The Central Bank Kenya has reinstated M-Pesa transaction fee for amounts below Sh 1,000- starting January 1,2021.

“CBK will allow the emergency measures to expire on December 31, 2020, and PSPs will introduce revised pricing structures from January 1, 2021,” CBK said in a statement on Thursday.

CBK re-assessed the emergency measures with the objective of consolidating the gains made and also facilitate a transition towards sustainable growth of the mobile money ecosystem.

Starting January 1, 2021 there will be no charge for person-to-person transfers of up to Sh100 to any customer and network.

Transfers between mobile money wallets and bank accounts will incur no charge.

Source: The Star

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December 16, 2020

Hotel bookings pickup as festive season kicks in

Hotels have reported improved business ahead of the Christmas and New Year holidays, with some facilities likely to be overwhelmed by numbers.

They are now grappling with how to enforce the Covid-19 protocols that demand social distancing  to mitigate the spread of the virus.

While hotel rooms can accommodate guests to full capacity, common areas such as restaurants, bars, pools and other amenities will be limited to a few guests at a time, a move that comes with extra labour and space.

A number of hotels at the Coast and parks are currently at between 40-50 per cent with last minute bookings for next week expected to push the numbers to above 80 per cent.

Some facilities have indicated they will be full during the Christmas weekend and New Year.

 

Source: The Star

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December 14, 2020

Banks must take a greater leadership role in Covid- 19 recovery

The news about the Covid-19 vaccine by Pfizer/BioNTec, Moderna, and Oxford/AstraZeneca marks a first significant step and renewed hope for the world that an end to the Covid-19 pandemic is finally in sight.

While life might gradually get back to normal as interactions become less restricted, the economic impact may take a longer recovery time, going by our experience with less hostile financial crises, such as the one in 2008/2009.

Banks are at the centre of the economy and must now take the lead in ensuring economic restart and recovery—what is now popularly referred to us building back better. 

At the global level, financial institutions have been active in the mitigation process, either through philanthropic initiatives or innovative financing solutions to meet the needs of uncertain customers.

Source: Nation

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December 13, 2020

The pandemic will reshape the nation- Wajir county governor

The covid -19 pandemic will provide an opportunity to break with the past and reshape the nation through new policies, ways of working and living, Wajir governor Mohamed Abdi has said.

Abdi said the economy has been driven to its knees as a result of measures taken to slow the spread of the coronavirus and thousands of Kenyans have lost their jobs as most businesses are struggling to stay afloat.

Speaking on Sunday when he officially closed a three-day workshop for Wajir County COVID-19 Emergency Response Team, he said the virus has hit the country hard but urged Kenyans to remain positive for a  better tomorrow.

 

The Workshop dubbed “Effective Leadership in Management of COVID-19 in Public Service” was used to appreciate County Emergency Response Committee in mitigating COVID-19 effects at the workplace, help build the capacity of stakeholders in response to emerging local issues and global trends.

Source: The Star

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December 10, 2020

Lessons Learned and Future Direction For Entreprenuers

It is without a doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has caught the whole world by surprise. Although its full impact is yet to be determined, it has certainly taken a toll on our economy, businesses and our day to day lives. The global health crisis has had a disruptive impact on the way people, cities and the world sees itself. 

I believe we may have all gone through this cycle; the panic, the fear, the confusion and now we have or are learning how to live with and accept this reality. With no end in sight, there’s no need to keep complaining because self-pity and whining will not help youThis is the time to deal and thrive through the chaos and the seismic changes. 

I am sure that each one of us has learnt several lessons from this pandemic and in this article I will share some of mine. The strategies we have implemented with my teams that have kept my businesses running during these uncertain times. I look forward to reading some of yours too.

Source: Capital FM

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December 9, 2020

Amref CEO asks high income nations to support Africa in acquiring Covid- 19 vaccine 

High-income countries have been asked to come to the aid of African nations so they can have access to Covid-19 vaccines.

Amref Health Africa Chief Executive Officer Dr Githinji Gitahi says considering the high cost of the Covid-19 vaccine, some low-income countries – the majority in Africa –would be crippled financially.

Gitahi said the cost of the vaccine, however, subsidised, would still be expensive for some countries when other factors are added.

He hypothesised that if each person in need will require two doses of the vaccine at Sh1,000 each and another Sh1,000 to cater for other costs, then it may cost Sh18 billion to vaccinate 600 million people who fall under the population at risk.

Source: The Standard

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December 9, 2020

Kirinyaga launches campaign to curb spread of Covid- 19

The Kirinyaga county government has stepped up its war against the Covid-19 pandemic with the launch of an accelerated prevention campaign against the disease.

The programme is intended to control the spread of infections at the community level.

The campaigns are spearheaded by the county’s department of Health and is being implemented in collaboration with stakeholders from other government departments as well as religious and community leaders.

 

According to Governor Anne Waiguru, the accelerated programme will see health workers and community health volunteers traverse Kirinyaga villages educating the public on the need to strictly adhere to all Covid-19 prevention measures and also enforcing the prevention protocols.

Source: Nation

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December 8, 2020

Antimalaria drug can help treat Covid- 19, study shows

A research has established that an antimalarial drug shortens the time the virus remains in the bodies of Covid-19 patients with mild to moderate symptoms.

The results, published early December in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases and International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents, revealed artemisinin-piperaquine (AP) had a therapeutic effect on patients.

It is a combination drug therapy derived from a Chinese plant, artemisinin, and an antimalarial called piperaquine.

The drug, a fourth-generation artemisinin-based combination therapy, significantly shortened the time to reach undetectable SARS-CoV-2 in the body.

“In patients with mild-to-moderate Covid-19, the time to reach undetectable SARS-CoV-2 was significantly shorter in the AP group than that in the control group,” says the report.

 

Source: Nation

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December 4, 2020

Treasury to return pre-Covid tax effective January 1, 2021

Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani has announced that taxes cut during the start of the pandemic will revert to normal from January 1, 2021.

However, the CS said those earning below Sh24,000 will continue enjoying 100% tax relief by exempting them from Pay As You Earn (PAYE) tax.

“However, the government will continue to cushion the low-income earners, by retaining 100 per cent tax exemption/relief for those earning monthly incomes of Sh24,000 and below,” Yatani said

Yatani on Friday said the move was necessitated by the ease of some of the containment measures and subsequent resumption of normalcy.

The CS said that effective from January 1, 2021, the Corporate Tax rate will revert to 30 per cent from the current 25 per cent.

The individual Income of Tax rate (VAT) will revert to 16 per cent from the current 25 per cent and the Value Added Tax rate VAT will revert to 16 per cent from the current 14 per cent.

Source: The Star

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December 3, 2020

Covid-19 disrupts Maragoli and Tiriki cultural festivals

Celebrations to mark the Maragoli and Tiriki cultural practices this year have been disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has left the community ravaged by infections as the festive Christmas season approaches.

For the first time in four decades, the annual Maragoli Cultural Festival in Vihiga County will not be held this year following a decision by the elders.

 

The popular cultural event is usually held on December 26 after the usual fanfare on Christmas Day.

Similarly, the century-old Tiriki traditional circumcision, which has been a uniting factor every five years, was for the first time marred by confusion with elders reading from different scripts over the decision to postpone the ritual.

Source: Nation

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December 1, 2020

Exclusive: Interview with UNAids DIrector on HIV Control and Covid- 19 pandemic

How has Covid-19 affected HIV services in Africa?

Even before Covid-19 hit the HIV response in Africa was already off track. Last year, 1.7million people globally were newly infected. That is three times more than the target that had been set. Also, 690,000 people died of Aids-related illness which again is above the target.

 

More people were placed on treatment but we were failing so much in the area of prevention, young girls and young women were newly infected and had a higher risk than men and boys of the same age particularly in Africa. We had 5,500 adolescents and young women infected every week. This is a global crisis

For Sub-Saharan Africa, the figure stands at 4,500 young women being infected every week, only a few counties including Botswana are hitting the target.

Source: Nation

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November 30, 2020

Kenya’s Judiciary revenue drops as Covid-19 bites

The Judiciary lost Sh422million in revenues this year following the onset of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

According to the latest report from the Judiciary, reduction in court activities from March this year led to revenues falling from Sh2.6billion recorded last year, to Sh2.2billion this year.

The revenue shortfall further saw the country’s courts fail to honour payments to suppliers and contractors, with its stock of pending bills climbing to Sh788million.

“Revenue Collection reduced by 18 per cent between the 2018/2019 and 2019/2020 financial years,” explained the report in part.

“The reduction by 16 per cent is attributed to the reduced number of filed and resolved cases in the 2019/2020 financial year yielding in a reduction in fees and fines. This was due to the scaling down of court activities from March 2020 necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Source: The Standard

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November 29, 2020

COVID- 19 on the decline in Kenya after weeks of high infections

For three consecutive days, Kenya recorded low deaths and infections raising hope of an improved health sitution that has threatened the country’s economy and forced schools to close since March until January 2021.

On Sunday, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said 711 new COVID-19 cases were reported raising the country’s caseload to 83, 316.

Kagwe said the new infections were confirmed from 6, 672 samples which were tested since Saturday.

Seven more patients also succumbed to the virus raising the country’s fatalities to 1, 452-according to latest statistics from the ministry.

Kenya has so far conducted 885, 933 tests since March when the first virus case was confirmed in the country.

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November 25, 2020

Oxygen donation eases woes for Coast General Hospital

Coast General Teaching and Referral Hospital has received a major boost after a company donated 10,000 litres of liquid oxygen for coronavirus patients, momentarily easing tribulations facing Mombasa county health department.

Mombasa Cement Limited donated the liquid oxygen for treatment of coronavirus patients barely a month after the facility’s chief administrator, Dr Iqbal Khandwalla, pleaded with well-wishers to aid CGTRH, the region’s largest hospital, with oxygen supply.

 Every three days, the hospital uses 4,000 litres of oxygen costing Sh600,000.

Dr Khandwalla said the disease has a huge demand for oxygen. “In this era of Covid-19, there is an urgent need for support of oxygen supply. The disease has a huge demand for oxygen and we have requested assistance. This is not a profit-making institution; it’s a government referral hospital where all the charges are highly subsidised,” said Dr Khandwalla on November 10.

Source: Nation

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November 17, 2020

Civil servants to get enhanced insurance with Covid cover

Treasury CS Ukur Yatani  will on Wednesday launch the first comprehensive insurance cover for civil servants and employees of the National Youth Service.

He will be joined by ICT CS Joe Mucheru, Public Service’s Margaret Kobia, Health’s Health Mutahi Kagwe, Insurance Regulatory Authority  CEO Godfrey Kiptum and NHIF CEO Peter Gathenge alongside other dignitaries.

Yatani said civil servants and NYS employees did not have a comprehensive insurance cover in place.

 The cover includes a Covid-19 cover for medical personnel and other cadres of the civil service and NYS.

This comes as pressure continues to mount on the National Hospital Insurance Fund to extend its cover to cater for Kenyans who incur Covid-19-related expenses.

Source: The Star

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November 16, 2020

How Nakuru is fighting burnout among doctors

Amid the surge in Covid-19 infections and deaths in the country, health workers have been at risk of burnout as they are in the frontlines.

In Nakuru County, authorities have devised ways to tackle burnout among medics as the fight against the coronavirus disease intensifies.

The county, in partnership with the African Medical and Research Foundation (Amref), has introduced sports, team building and counselling for the health workers.

Health executive Gichuki Kariuki noted that some of the health practitioners have reported cases of burnout due to long work hours and a heavy caseload.

Early this year, the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned that the global health workforce was at risk of experiencing burnout due to the pressure brought about by the pandemic.

Source: Nation

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November 12, 2020

Uhuru directs Magoha to issue guidelines on school infrastructure

President Uhuru Kenyatta has directed the Ministry of Education to issue a new set of building guidelines for school infrastructure.

Speaking  during the State Of The Nation Address on Thursday, Uhuru said the Education ministry and the Transport ministry will by December 1, issue the guidelines.

“This is with the fact that significant financial resources will be deployed towards the construction of at least 12,500 new classrooms and related school facilities,” he said.

Uhuru said this will allow the use of appropriate and cost-effective building technologies suited to the varied geographies of Kenya. 

In 2019, seven pupils from Precious Talent Academy perished while 57 others were injured after their classroom collapsed.

 

Source: The Star

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November 11, 2020

Poor nations have to wait longer for Covid vaccines

People in developing countries should receive news of a breakthrough in the search for a Covid-19 vaccine with cautious optimism if the number of doses projected versus the demand is anything to go by.

In what was hailed as a ‘great day for science and humanity’, news of the vaccine that offers over 90 per cent protection yesterday breathed life into the race towards eradication of the pandemic through mass vaccination globally.

 Covax, led by WHO, Gavi and Cepi, the vaccines’ pillar of WHO’s Access to Covid-19 tools (ACT) Accelerator, recognises that governments have been under pressure to secure successful vaccines for their populations and if they compete, most countries could miss out, especially those that cannot secure supplies.

Source: The Standard

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November 9, 2020

Nakuru MCA succumbs to Covid- 19

Nakuru’s Hell’s Gate Member of County Assembly (MCA) John Njuguna alias WaSussy has succumbed to Covid-19.

A source at the Nakuru Nursing Home said the MCA was admitted at the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit on Friday after developing breathing complications. 

Nakuru Assembly Speaker Joel Kairu confirmed on Monday that the MCA died after a short illness.

 

Mr Kairu described the late Njuguna  as a committed and active ward representative.

“Today is a sad day for the residents of Nakuru County as we have lost one of our most committed members of the county assembly who died this afternoon. On behalf of the assembly, I wish to send our message of condolences to his family and the people of Naivasha,” he said.

Source: Nation

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November 5, 2020

68 Students, 5 Teachers test positive for virus in Bahati Girls Secondary, Nakuru

68 students and five teachers have tested positive for Covid-19 at Bahati Girls Secondary school in Nakuru county.

In a statement on Thursday, CEC health Kariuki Gichuki said one student who tested positive developed some complications.

“And is being treated at the Nakuru isolation and management centre. A medical team is monitoring the condition of the students and teachers in isolation at the school,” Gichuki said.

He assured the public that the health department is monitoring the situation in Nakuru.

The numbers of positive cases in schools are worrying after another 52 from Salvation Army Kolanya Boys High School tested positive.

 

Source: The Star

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November 4, 2020

President Uhuru Suspends Political Rallies For 60 days

President Uhuru Kenyatta has suspended all political gatherings and rallies for 60 days as the country enforced new measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 which has surged since last month.

“Anyone wishing to hold such meetings should do so in town halls and must observe all COVID protocols, including limiting the attendees to one-third seating capacity of the hall,” Kenyatta directed after a meeting of the National Emergency Response Committee (NERC) that brings together the Council of Governors.

The ban on the gatherings comes at a time the politicians are gearing up for the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) rallies to popularise recommendations in the report launched last week ahead of a national referendum.

Source: Capital FM

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November 2, 2020

Coronavirus cases have not stretched healthcare system- CS Kagwe

The upsurge of positive coronavirus cases has not overloaded the health system, Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe has said.

Speaking in Kilifi County on Monday, the CS challenged reports by the media that hospitals are overstretched due to the surge in cases.

“The stories circulating around in the press that we are overwhelmed by the disease in terms of our bed capacity is not true. People are talking about Nairobi Hospital, Aga Khan and perhaps M.P Shah,” Kagwe said.

He said the main hospitals in focus as the country grapples with the second wave will be public hospitals, especially those in the counties.

The CS urged governors to ensure county hospitals are fitted with enough ICU beds in case numbers continue rising.

Kagwe warned the county heads that if the country continues experiencing the surge of positive cases, then each county will have to deal with its patients.

Source: The Standard

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October 30, 2020

Kenya joins Oxford University vaccine trial

Kenya has joined global efforts to search for an effective vaccine for Covid-19 with the start of a trial evaluating vaccine candidate ChAdOx1 nCoV-19.

A trial team from the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) will carry out the experiment at the Kemri Wellcome Trust Research Programme in Kilifi County, a longstanding collaboration by Kemri, Oxford University and the Wellcome Trust in the UK

In a statement Friday, Kemri said it has vaccinated its first volunteers after receiving the necessary regulatory and ethical approvals and go-ahead from Kilifi and the Health ministry.

Source: Nation

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October 29, 2020

Candidates to sit for National exams in March despite Covid-19

National examinations for the 1.9 million KCPE and KCSE candidates set to start in March will go on as scheduled, Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha said.

Magoha said that there are no plans to shut schools for the Grade Four, Class Eight and Form Four learners who resumed classes three weeks ago.

“There are no changes and we are not planning to shut down because of Covid-19,” said Magoha.

 

Source: The Standard

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October 27, 2020

Mombasa County Assembly shut as 8 test positive for virus

Tension is high at the Mombasa County Assembly after seven MCAs and one staffer tested positive for Covid-19.

A two-week recess for the MCAs has now further been extended by 14 more days. 

They were to go back to work on Monday.

Earlier, Deputy speaker Fadhili Makarani said three MCAs had tested positive, adding that the 14 days might be extended to 21 days due to the surging numbers of Covid-19.

“We have three MCAs and a few staff who tested positive and that is why we decided to extend the recess because the whole place needs to be fumigated. People have been given two weeks to go for self-isolation,” said Makarani.

However, Speaker Kharub Khatri later confirmed seven MCAs and one staffer had tested positive.

Source: The Star

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October 26, 2020

Nurses pay  tribute to a colleague who died of virus

A sombre mood engulfed Maisha Bora village in Isiolo County as residents and health workers bid farewell to a 53-year-old nurse who died of Covid-19.

Ms Pauline Nunu, who worked at Isiolo Referral Hospital, passed on last Tuesday while being taken to Nairobi for intensive care services after developing breathing difficulties

 

Following the death of the mother of two, more than 100 health workers stormed the referral hospital’s ICU to establish whether it was working.

They questioned why the nurse, who needed ventilatory services, was admitted at the unit.

Nurses paid special tributes to their fallen colleague, lit candles and recited nurses creed around her grave.

Source:Nation

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October 21, 2020

15 Teachers test positive for Covid-19

Learning at Star of the Sea Primary School and Tononoka High School in Mombasa County has been suspended after 15 teachers tested positive for Covid-19.

Standard Digital has established that four teachers at Star of the Sea Primary School including the principal and 11 teachers at Tononoka High School have tested positive for the virus.

The teachers said they started showing symptoms of the disease and decided to take private tests.

This also comes as Grade 4 and Class Eight pupils across the country begin sitting their national assessment tests today.

Students at the affected schools will not be sitting for the tests that are being administered by the Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC).

A spot check on Wednesday morning revealed uncertainties as there were no exams in some schools.

Source: The Standard

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October 19, 2020

Nandi County CLoses Offices

Nandi County has closed its offices at the headquarters in Kapsabet Town following eight positive cases of the coronavirus.

In a statement on Sunday evening, County Secretary and Head of Public Service Dr Francis Sang said the offices will be closed for 14 days from Monday.

Amongst the eight officers are six from the Department of Finance and Economic Planning – five from the headquarters and one from the Education Department.

 

The other two officers are from Public Health and Administration, and Public Service and e-Government, Dr Sang said.

Dr Sang said the offices of the governor, deputy governor, administration, public service, e-Government, health, finance, and economic planning will be closed to contain the spread of the virus

Source: Nation

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October 14, 2020

Health Ministry Warns Wgainst Fumigating Students In School

The Ministry of Health has warned against fumigating children in schools after videos went viral of learners being sprayed on Monday when schools reopened after a long COVID-19 break that started in March.

Health Chief Administrative Secretary Dr. Rashid Aman said the use of disinfectants on humans can have a harmful physical and psychological effect.

“I actually saw that clip where children were being fumigated. That is not something that the Ministry recommends, remember we said that those things are not supposed to be applied on human beings, we stopped that,” he said, “I know that our office has taken notice and is taking action to advise the schools that something like this is not acceptable to spray children with fumigants on their bodies, clothes and skin.”

Source: Capital FM

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October 12, 2020

Magoha: Parents, Prepare your other children for school

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha on Monday asked parents with children in other classes to start preparing them for reopening in one or two-weeks time.

This comes as schools reopened today across the country, allowing grade 4, Class 8 and Form Four learners to resume learning for their second term.

While leading the inspection of school reopening at Nairobi Primary and Olympic Primary in the capital, the CS is advised parents to ready their other children for learning.

“The Ministry will observe the situation in one or two weeks, then we shall recall the other children,” said Prof Magoha.

He also advised Kenyan parents not to be worried about their kids and stop negative thinking.

Source: Nation

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October 9, 2020

Second wave: Kenya’s Covid 19 cases up by 442

Some 442 people have tested positive for coronavirus, the Health ministry has announced, following the testing of 5,327 samples in the last 24 hours.

However, 166 people recovered from the disease, 140 of them from the home-based care programme. Four patients succumbed to the disease, pushing the number of deaths to 755.

Health CAS Dr Rashid Aman on Friday said Uasin Gishu county is among the top 10 in the counties’ rank of coronavirus infections. Some 651 people have been confirmed to have Covid-19 in the couny.

“This means this disease is firmly in all parts of the country and is spreading everyday.”

Uasin Gishu’s more than 400 Covid-19 cases in the county have been managed through the home-based care programme.

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October 8, 2020

Nairobi prison locked down due to Covid 19 outbreak

A Nairobi prison has been locked down due to a coronavirus outbreak affecting 35 detainees at the facility, the government announced Tuesday.

Visits to the prison remain suspended as authorities try to contain the spread of the disease, Health CAS Rashid Aman said on Tuesday.

Dr Aman said 55 percent of the confirmed cases in Nairobi in the last 24 hours came from the remand prison. 

The Health official said the prison will not be receiving any remandees from starting on Wednesday. 

 

Source:Nation

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October 7, 2020

Uhuru declares a National Prayer Weekend

President Uhuru Kenyatta has announced that the country will hold three-day prayers for the nation this weekend from Friday to Sunday.

The communication from State House spokesperson Kanze Dena said Kenyans are encouraged to pray for the country in their usual places of worship in compliance with Covid-19 containment protocols.

On Saturday, the president will convene an inter-faith national prayer service at State House, Nairobi starting at 10am.

Source:The Star

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October 6, 2020

Schools to Reo 

Schools across the country are set to begin a phased reopening on October 12.

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha Tuesday ordered Grade 4, Class 8 and Form 4 student back to classes after a 205-day hiatus occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic.

Already, teachers are in their second week of school with no learners.

Prof Magoha announced that school calendar will run from Tuesday, October 12 to December 23, 2020.

Students will have one week break and begin term three on January 4, 2021, up to March 19, 2021.

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Schools to Reopen on October 12 

Schools across the country are set to begin a phased reopening on October 12.

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha Tuesday ordered Grade 4, Class 8 and Form 4 student back to classes after a 205-day hiatus occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic.

Already, teachers are in their second week of school with no learners.

Prof Magoha announced that school calendar will run from Tuesday, October 12 to December 23, 2020.

Students will have one week break and begin term three on January 4, 2021, up to March 19, 2021.

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October 5, 2020

Kenya At Risk Of Second Wave 

Kenya is at risk of a second wave of Covid-19 infections just six days after the partial reopening of the economy.

Positive cases have dramatically increased, especially in rural counties, barely a week after President Uhuru Kenyatta eased containment measures to boost businesses. 

From the 21,958 tests conducted between September 22 and 27, there were only 1,036 positive cases. But from September 29 to yesterday, there were 1,259 cases from 22,068 tests, a difference of a whopping 223.

Speaking to the Nation, Amref Health Africa Group CEO, Dr Githinji Gitahi, said the trend was expected: “The curve had only flattened in urban centres. The cases were declining in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kiambu, Kajiado and Machakos. Unfortunately, the cases have started to peak in rural counties and thus affecting the positivity rate.”

Source:Nation

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October 1, 2020

Schools Reopening To Be Announced Soon

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha has told MPs that it is time to reopen all schools in the country.

Magoha on Tuesday told parliamentary committee that they are prioritizing students in class Eight and Form Four in the second phase of schools reopening to be announced soon.

The CS without giving express reopening dates, however, said it is time the country opens its schools citing examples of neighboring countries which have allowed their students back after the pandemic.

Source:The Star

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September 30, 2020

Kenya Reopens Bars

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 28- President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday allowed bars to resume operations as part of measures to re-open the economy that slowed since March when the first COVID-19 case detected in the country.

They have remained closed since then, just as schools and all institutions of higher learning.

But on Monday, President Kenyatta said public health officials had assessed the situation and advised a phased re-opening of the bars which will be allowed to operate until 10 from Tuesday.

“You can now go and drink alcohol,” President Kenyatta said at the end of a COVID-19 National Conference at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi.

He however, warned that Kenyans must continue to observe social distancing measures so as to keep away from the virus that had killed 700 people and infected 38,000 others by September 28.

Source:Capital FM

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September 27, 2020

State Reveals Number of Jobs Lost Due to Covid-19

The government has put the number of those who have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic, in both the formal and informal sectors, at 36,163.

In a report tabled before the National Assembly Committee on Labour and Social Welfare, the Ministry of Labour and Social Services said, however, that the figure could be higher since most people who lost their jobs did not report the development to the ministry.

The report indicates that the most affected sectors include hospitality and manufacturing.

According to the report, 3,022 people in the manufacturing industry have lost their jobs while the agriculture industry has sent home 2,965 people.

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September 23, 2020

Kenya set to reopen schools

All learning institutions used as Covid-19 isolation centres should be vacated and disinfected before teachers report on Monday.

In a letter to the Ministry of Health, Basic Education PS Belio Kipsang wants the cleaning done in time to allow teachers to prepare for the reopening of schools.

“Aware that public schools were used both as quarantine and isolation facilities, we are requesting that these schools are vacated and fumigated by September 28 to enable the school heads to prepare for eventual reopening,”  Kipsang said in a September 21 letter to Health PS Susan Mochache.

Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers secretary general Akello Misori shared similar sentiments saying: “Let us start by keeping teachers safe and disinfect the schools before they report on Monday.”

This came as the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) instructed teachers to prepare schemes of work, lesson plans and class timetables as soon as they report.

Source: The Standard

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September 22, 2020

Nairobi, Mombasa COVID-19 attack rates maintain surge above national average

Coronavirus attack rates in Nairobi and Mombasa have maintained a surge above the national average of 77.7, the two cities now registering 460.6 and 229.7 cases respectively per 100,000 people.

Speaking during the daily briefing on the status of the pandemic, Health Chief Administrative Secretary Rashid Aman said Nairobi cumulatively accounts for the highest cases at 20,253 cases followed by Mombasa which has reported 2,775 cases since March when the first COVID-19  case was reported in the country.

Kiambu is listed in third place with 2,675 cases followed by Kajiado having reported 2,647 cases while  West Pokot and Elgeyo Marakwet counties account for the lowest caseload in the country having reported seven cases each.

“Nairobi and Mombasa counties continue to record highest attack rates of COVID-19 number of positives per 100,000 persons,” Aman said.

Within a 24-hour period ending Monday, September 21, the country reported 98 positive cases out of 1,644 samples bringing the cumulative number of positive cases to 37,079.

Source: The Star

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September 21, 2020

President Uhuru Kenyatta extends curfew, to give new directions after national conference

President Uhuru Kenyatta has extended containment measures, including the 9 pm-4 am curfew, until September 29.

In a statement on Monday, Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua said the planned National COVID-19 Conference will be presided over by Uhuru on Monday next Monday, thereafter, he will make his 12th national address on the Covid-19 situation on Tuesday.

Uhuru made the 11th national address on August 26, where he announced the extension of the curfew by 30 days among other measures to contain the spread of the virus.

Other containment measures outlined by Uhuru on August 26 included an extension on the order closing bars.

Source: The Star

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September 20, 2020

Kenya sustains COVID-19 decline with 152 new cases

Kenya sustained the decline of COVID-19 cases, recording 152 new infections on Sunday.

The country has posted less than 200 cases on a daily basis since August, in what is largely attributed to the Ministry’s of Health’s low testing capacity due to lack of reagents. The new cases recorded Sunday were confirmed from 2,224 samples.

On Sunday, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said 110 patients had been discharged after recovering from COVID-19, raising recoveries so far to 23,887.

Total infections stood at 36,981.

Kagwe said two patients had succumbed to the virus, raising fatalities in the country to 648.

Source: Capital News

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September 16, 2020

Coronavirus to cost football $14bn this year, says FIFA

FIFA has put the cost of the coronavirus pandemic on football around the world at $14bn in lost revenue.

That figure accounts for about a third of the game’s global economic value with the club and national game worth about $46bn worldwide.

The pandemic has already led to more than 150 football associations seeking financial help from the $1.5bn emergency relief fund set up by football’s governing body.

Olli Rehn, chairman of FIFA’s coronavirus steering committee, laid bare for the first time the true financial effect the coronavirus has had on the game through fixture list chaos, empty stadiums and loss of TV rights revenue.

Source: Al-Jazeera

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September 15, 2020

Kenya reopens its skies to Tanzania

The government of Kenya has finally added its neighbouring county Tanzania to the list of countries allowed to land in.

In the latest review of the countries whose travelers are exempted from the 14-day mandatory quarantine upon arrival, Tanzania is among the 147 countries.

This is the second review of the flights allowed in the country since the government reopened its skies for international travel.

Other countries that have been added to the list include Ghana, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.
 

 

Source: The Star

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September 12, 2020

How the Coronavirus attacks the brain

It’s not just the lungs — the pathogen may enter brain cells, causing symptoms like delirium and confusion, scientists reported.

The coronavirus targets the lungs foremost, but also the kidneys, liver and blood vessels. Still, about half of patients report neurological symptoms, including headaches, confusion and delirium, suggesting the virus may also attack the brain.

A new study offers the first clear evidence that, in some people, the coronavirus invades brain cells, hijacking them to make copies of itself. The virus also seems to suck up all of the oxygen nearby, starving neighboring cells to death.

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September 10, 2020

Kenya approves first Covid-19 vaccine trials 

The government has approved the first Covid-19 vaccine trials to be conducted in the country.

The approval posted by Pharmacy and Poisons Board on Tuesday allows for the Oxford University-developed vaccine to be tested in Kenya.The trials to be carried out by the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) will recruit 400 health workers in Kilifi and Mombasa counties.

The next step, though generally ceremonial, will be the final approval by the National Commission for Science, Technology, and Innovation (Nacosti).

This makes Kenya the second country in the sub-Saharan Africa after South Africa to conduct clinical trials for a Covid 19 vaccine. South Africa started trials for the same Oxford University vaccine, known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, in June.

Source: The Standard

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September 09, 2020

Scientists are trying to explain why so few Kenyans are dying of coronavirus 

In March, Kenya was bracing for coronavirus. Duncan Nyukuri, an infectious disease physician at Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi, was listening to reports coming in from China and Italy with trepidation. “Our healthcare infrastructure is not as good as in those areas,” he said, and even as Kenya implemented strict lockdown policies, it wasn’t clear how the country would cope.

Six months on and, while Kenyans aren’t quite breathing a sigh of relief, many are cautiously optimistic. “It’s better than what I feared initially,” says Nyukuri. The majority of Kenyans who get coronavirus—around 80%, according to health cabinet secretary Mutahi Kagwe—seem to be asymptomatic. And Kenyans seem to be dying of coronavirus at far lower rates than elsewhere in the world.

Source: Quartz

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May 06, 2020

Will We Ever Get A COVID-19 Vaccine?

Vaccines, a long term innoculation against infection, normally take more than years, if not decades, to develop. Some viral diseases, such as dengue and HIV, still don’t have one. Currently, there are over 100 vaccine candidates in preclinical trials for Covid-19 and around 5 have progressed to the clinical evaluation stage. The first human trials began in Seattle, USA and Oxford, UK last month. Scientists have fast-tracked the process by not conducting animal trials (preclinical evaluation) to test its safety. Even with human trials, optimistically, we could have a successful vaccine only by mid-2021. Assuming that there will be a limited supply initially, only risk groups will be vaccinated first, including healthcare workers, children and older adults. So, it’s better that we get accustomed sooner rather than later to this new normal because no magic drug is going to revamp the situation anytime soon.

 

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May 04, 2020

Global Curve Signalling End Of Phase One?

Global COVID-19 cases have risen to about 3.5 million on day 156 since the day of the first case. However, the good news is that the rate of increase is not increasing and the doubling time has doubled as well. This is taking us closer to the flattening of the global curve, which is a situation in which each day sees a reduced number of new cases.

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May 03, 2020

Neutrophils – Fighters Of Infections, Aggravators Of COVID-19?

Neutrophils are white blood cells that protect us from infections. Amongst their functions, they sometimes form Neutrophil Extracellular Traps (NETs) to destroy microbes outside the cell. When NETs are not well-regulated they can cause an abnormal inflammatory response and blood clotting. Researchers have found that severe COVID-19 patients have increased NET blood levels. It is believed that blood clots and respiratory failure in COVID-19 patients could, in fact, be promoted by excess NET formation.

It is well understood that the cause of death by COVID-19 is often a result of the massive, immune response in some patients. Now, NETs are believed to be part of this response both directly, and indirectly by promoting the infamous ‘cytokine storms’, a massive inflammatory reaction in the body.

If true, treatment that inhibits development of NETs could dampen the body’s response and prevent it from losing control. The good news is that many drug candidates for this already exist and are in various stages of clinical trials for use in COVID patients.

Source: NCBI

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May 2, 2020

Bemcentinib, Cancer Drug – A Cure For COVID 19?

Bemcentinib, traditionally a cancer drug given along with chemotherapy, has been fast-tracked into human coronavirus trials in the UK. The medication, which comes as a once-a-day pill, has previously prevented immune invasion, drug resistance, and growth of cancers. The hope is to see it boost an immune response in COVID 19 patients and keep the virus from entering and multiplying in the lung cells by turning off the AXL receptors.

If the testing is successful, we can hope to see suitable treatment for COVID 19 soon.

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April 30, 2020

COULD The Cure To COVID Be COVID itself? – A Radical Idea And A Call For Data

At this point there are over 3600 genomes of the SARS-COV-2 virus. This in itself is not more newsworthy than saying people have different eye colors. At some point though, it calls for a thorough understanding: Is there one strain or more? What’s driving the pandemic? And more importantly, are there strains that are not driving the pandemic, and why not?

According to Indian scientists, there are up to 11 strains and only one driving the pandemic in India, which is the original strain from Wuhan. However, why are the other strains not driving the pandemic. This could be a lower transmitability, a lower infectivity, or much higher levels of asymptomatic infection. The last two, bring forth a radical notion. Is it possible to vaccinate an individual using a milder strain of the active infection – analogous to what we used to do with kids and chicken pox, knowing that childhood infection is much milder than adult infection.

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April 29, 2020

PCR Vs Antibody – What Is What And What Is Better?

Two different types of COVID tests are being referred to in media, the PCR and the antibody. But what are they and how are they different, and why do we even need two?

One is the PCR test (polymerase chain reaction test), in which an oral or nasal swab is taken. This tells us whether a patient is currently infected by looking for genetic material of the virus.

The antibody test, however, looks for the the antibodies that the human body forms in response to the infection. If the antibodies are there, that means we are currently or have previously been infected. If not , it means we have never been infected, or it is too early in the disease and our immune system reactions have not kicked in.

So really, PCR test for infection, while antibodies test for immunity, or more accurately, immune response.

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April 28, 2020

What is R0 And Why Should We Care About It?

Basic Reproductive Number or R0 (pronounced R-Naught) is essentially the average number of people who will contract a disease from someone who already has the disease. Covid 19’s R0 is estimated to be between 2-4, implying that every sick person will spread the disease to another 2 to 4 people. This cycle of reproduction will continue until there is some sort of intervention. If R0 is less than 1, the infection will eventually peter out. But if R0 is greater than 1, it will keep spreading exponentially and cause an epidemic. Thus, only when the R0 will go below 1 can we hope to see the eradication of the virus.
Read more about this here!

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April 26, 2020

Remdesivir Flops, But Was It Ever Designed To Succeed?

The best hope for a near term vaccine apparently showed in clinical trials that “it did not improve patients’ condition or reduce the pathogen’s presence in the bloodstream” causing an 8+ billion dollar drop in the market cap of its maker Gilead Sciences. But was it ever designed to succeed. Remdesivir is an antiviral designed to stop the virus from replicating (see our 3D animation). But the first set of trials were all late stage trials in very severe cases. In severe cases it is the massive immune response that kills the patient not the virus itself. Therefore, reducing the viral load at that point is most likely the proverbial ‘too little too late’. Stopping the pathogenesis, or progression, of the disease with antivirals usually requires intervention in the early stages when the viral load is building. Indeed, Oseltamivir, or tamiflu, used as a prophylactic against swine flu is required to be taken within 48 hours of symptoms.

Thus by requiring that trials be conducted on severe patients first, remdesivir was potentially due to the fail from the beginning. However, the possibility that remdesivir still can be used as a prevention or early stage treatment can not be ruled out.

Source: BBC

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