By Andrew Wasike
Kenya launched a 120-bed isolation center Friday dedicated to coronavirus cases in case of an outbreak in the East African nation.
The first of its kind center in sub-Saharan Africa has been set up inside state-owned Mbagathi Hospital in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi.
Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe emphasized the country is ready to deal with any outbreak of the virus, known as COVID-19.
“About one thousand one hundred health care workers have been trained and additional health workers have been deployed at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA),” he said while inaugurating the facility. “The sensitizations will be cascaded to the community level throughout the country, the isolation center is secure.”
The new coronavirus emerged in Wuhan, China, last December and has spread to more than 80 countries.
The global death toll is nearing 3,500, with around 100,000 confirmed cases, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The WHO, which had declared the outbreak an international health emergency, recently updated to “very high” the global risk level.
“I want to assure Kenyans that we are not leaving anything to chance when it comes in our preparedness,” he said.
Kagwe noted no one is going to come into Kenya without undergoing a mandatory screening at airports, ports and along the country’s borders.
The government banned all international meetings and conferences for 30 days to minimize the risk of importation of the virus from affected countries.
Kenya has investigated 23 alerts involving 31 suspected cases where all tested negative for the virus. Two recent cases were in the capital, according to the Ministry of Health
The government also announced Friday it temporarily lifted a ban on Italian flights to Kenya except for an empty plane to evacuate 800 Italian nationals from Kenya.
“The flight(s) will only contain their cabin crew, who will not disembark while the passengers are being picked,” Kagwe said.
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