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Coronavirus: Four from Somalia quarantined in Wajir

Wednesday April 29, 2020

Photo courtesy: Victor Matara

Four people from Somalia, who were intercepted at the border with Kenya on Monday, will be quarantined at an isolation centre in Wajir County.

County Commissioner Jacob Narengo said security agencies held them since they were from a country affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Somalia had a total of 480 confirmed cases as of April 28, 26 of them being the number of deaths and 14 the number of recoveries.

"Our officers are under strict instructions to stop anybody coming into and out of the country for vetting since we don't know the intention now that travel has been halted by the government," Mr Narengo said on Tuesday.

The commissioner said the four people had not exhibited any symptoms that would indicate that they had contracted the coronavirus but would be quarantined for the mandatory 14 days as a precaution.

He said an ambulance was sent to Diff, where they were found, to pick them up and take them to Wajir County Referral Hospital.


The county's Health executive, Mr Ismail Isack, described Somalia's case as a wake-up call for people not following guidelines by the government and the World Health Organization (WHO) but said there was not yet a cause for alarm in Wajir.

Mr Isack said samples from the four would be tested at the recently unveiled regional laboratory and results announced after a few days.

He noted that the four would be the first to be quarantined in the county since Kenya reported its first case of the coronavirus on march 13.

Seven people who earlier quarantined at home tested negative for the disease.

Mr Isack noted, however, that the county was still at high risk risk due to behavioural and cultural challenges.

"We've noticed that our people are not taking this disease with the seriousness it deserves," he said. "Somalia is now suffering because of this. We urge residents to be careful henceforth."

He also warned the people against sharing meals during Iftar to reduce the risk of transmission and urged families to prepare takeaway meals for the less fortunate instead of gathering in large group to share.

"Let's take this matter seriously. This disease is not a joke, " he said.


A spot check by the Nation revealed that it was business as usual in the county despite the government's directives for preventing further spread of the disease.

A number of people in Wajir town openly flouted the social distancing rule while others did not have face masks.

Mr Isack spoke of challenges in enforcing the rules in market places, banks and slaughterhouses.

He added, however, that disease surveillance teams and public health teams were working round the clock to address the problems.

"We want to start another sensitisation campaign using channel possible, including public address systems and local radio station, to make sure the message reaches the grassroots," he said.


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