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Kenya loses 16 health workers to COVID-19 amid heightened risk

Nairobi, Kenya | XINHUA | Kenya has lost 16 healthcare workers to COVID-19 while 945 have contracted the virus since mid-March when the first positive case was reported in the country, health officials said on Thursday.

Mercy Mwangangi, chief administrative secretary in the Ministry of Health said that healthcare workers have grappled with higher risk of contracting the coronavirus while in the line of duty.

“During the response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the health workers have faced several challenges specific to the pandemic,” Mwangangi said at a briefing in Nairobi.

They include infections, violence, stigma, psychological and emotional disturbances, illness and even death. This in essence makes health workers’ safety a critical matter in our health service, she added.

Mwangangi spoke during a daily COVID-19 briefing that coincided with marking of this year’s World Patient Safety Day whose theme was “Health Workers Safety: A Priority for Patient Safety”.

She said the government appreciates the contribution of healthcare workers on the frontline of combating a pandemic that has impacted negatively on livelihoods.

“Without the invaluable support of our health workers, who are our frontline soldiers, we could not have managed to deal with this virus, in the manner in which we have done so far,” said Mwangangi.

She said that healthcare workers have also been exposed to other infectious diseases like Hepatitis B, Tuberculosis and HIV and AIDS while taking care of COVID-19 patients.

Mwangangi said the government has prioritized the provision of personal protective equipment (PPEs) to ensure that healthcare workers have a negligible chance of contracting the virus.

“Their mental well-being is taken care of, by dedicating psychosocial counselors and psychologists among others to take care of them during these stressful moments, “said Mwangangi.

She said the ministry of health has developed a comprehensive policy to promote safety of doctors and nurses on the frontline of fighting infectious diseases.

Meanwhile, Kenya’s total COVID-19 caseload reached 36,576 after 183 patients turned positive to the virus out of a sample size of 4,188 that was tested in the last 24 hours.

Among the patients who tested positive included a seven-month-old infant and an 80-year-old elder, while the capital Nairobi and the second and third-tier cities of Mombasa and Kisumu carried the bulk of caseload.

The national recovery tally hit 23,611 after 82 patients including 33 domiciled in home-based care programs and 49 who were admitted in healthcare facilities were declared free from coronavirus.

Kenya’s COVID-19 death toll reached 642 after five patients succumbed to the disease.

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