The Covid-19 numbers in the country have been on a steady decline since mid August. This has led to a general perception that the curve is flattening. However, the decline is now being attributed to less mass testing and reduced contact tracing.
At the beginning of the pandemic, government officials tested people and did contact tracing rigorously with the aim of isolating infected victims.
The numbers have dropped to 200 and less in the past two weeks, despite the number of samples tested remaining high. The government is now relying on data provided from hospitals to get the numbers.
Since Sunday, the numbers have fluctuated between 83, 136 and 102 positive cases. The samples reported are still in the thousands.
It is now emerging that contract tracing has been delegated to the sub county level and is only being done for close family members. This means that a huge number of people who have been exposed to the virus do not get tested and may not get tested unless they fall sick or go for voluntary testing. They may also expose other people to the virus unknowingly.
If you call the Covid-19 hotline, 719, you will be redirected to the county council who have now been tasked with handling the cases.
AMREF Group CEO Githinji Gitahi, says the numbers have declined due to lack of facilities in the counties. According to Dr. Gitahi, the total number of cases are mostly from Nairobi and Mombasa, the hardest hit areas since the virus was announced in the country in March.
In the last one week, the number of positive cases as updated by the Ministry of Health have been at a steady decline.
“The Kenya testing rate now is about 1 per cent. Testing has not been adequate. And it has been said before and the government has acknowledged that testing has been sub-optimum for various reasons,” Gitahi said while appearing on a local TV on Sunday.
He added: “The positivity rate could also be affected by the lack of resources in different counties needed for the contact tracing.”
Gitahi said that the government had shifted its focus to home based care and as a result, the contact tracing efforts were less due to lack of resources in the counties.
“The question remains, how prepared are these counties? Do they have what is needed?” he posed.
Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a statement saying the low number being announced in Kenya was due to low testing and less contract tracing efforts. They cautioned citizens against interpreting the numbers to mean that the curve had been flattened.
A situation report from the Ministry of Health published last week also showed that the government had shifted its strategy and was concentrating its testing efforts on symptomatic cases, hospital cases, prisons, and healthcare workers.
“Inability to track all contacts of cases and due to home-based care, not all cases are captured since many patients now opt to stay at home and may not be missed cases,” the report says.