Migori County has set aside Sh40.3 million for response to the deadly coronavirus should a case be reported there.
The health department has allocated Sh26.7 million to payment of medical personnel tasked with handling suspected cases and Sh13.6 million to infrastructure and medical equipment.
County Public Health Chief Officer Fidellis Majiwa told the Nation that plans to educate residents on the disease were also underway at the Sirare, Muhuru Bay, Guitembe and Kopanga border points, through which many people travel daily.
“We are working towards meeting the March 15 deadline set by the ministry. We have also set aside utility vehicles that will ferry suspected cases to the 39 isolation centers across the county,” he said.
Cross-border surveillance at the Isebania border point found a fully furnished treatment centre with a team of health experts to handle emergencies.
Mr Samuel Juma, the Cross Border Disease Surveillance Coordinator, said they also mounted scanners for automatic detection of unusual temperatures as travellers cross into the country.
“We have also set up a quarantine room and a holding room where any suspected case will be dealt with before transfer to the treatment centre at Migori County Referral Hospital,” he said.
Mr Majiwa also spoke of plans for a medical centre in Nyatike, instead of the Migori hospital, saying it is best-suited to accommodate patients.
“There are plans to create an isolation center in Nyatike Sub-county owing to its vast tracts of land and proximity to Lake Victoria. The place also has an airstrip as well as an old European cemetery, making it ideal for evacuation in case of severe attacks,” he said.
“We are engaging the political class to enable us set up a 52-bed facility in Macalder. That political goodwill is key,” he added.
On Monday, Mr Majiwa, Health executive Iscah Oluoch and the county health response team held a day-long, closed-door meeting on mitigation plans.
However, residents are sceptical about the steps the county has taken and have called for mass sensitisation on how to respond to an outbreak.
“We are not sure of what to do in case one contacts the virus. The county health department should educate the masses on safety tips just like it is done in Tanzania when we cross the border,” said Peter Highway, a resident.
Leaders from Nyatike have asked the county to intensify screening along Lake Victoria which borders Tanzania and Uganda.
Muhuru MCA Hevrone Maira and Kanyasa’s Jacky Paul Ongoro urged the setting up of centres along beaches for close monitoring of traders and fishermen from the two neighbouring countries.
“Apart from the Isebania border, Muhuru Bay acts as an entry point for fishermen who ply their trade as far as Tanzania and Uganda. Anyone crossing through these points should be thoroughly screened for safety,” Mr Maira said.
Ms Ongoro said, “We have to be a little more vigilant than before. This is a matter of life and death that calls for constant surveillance and quick response. Let all the loopholes be sealed.”