While Covid-19 has the potential of killing any of its victims anywhere, sooner or later, Homa Bay county is likely to become the hotbed of coronavirus related deaths in Kenya.

Three reasons.

Firstly, the highly infectious disease is more dangerous on people with pre-existing medical conditions like diabetes mellitus, hypertension, heart or lung disease and compromised immune systems. HIV weakens patients immunity thus giving room to other opportunistic diseases like Tuberculosis.

Data from the 2018 Kenya Population – Based HIV Impact Assessment (Kenphia) report released in February 2020 indicated that Homa Bay county still leads the country with a high HIV/AIDs prevalence of 19.6 per cent. The county, together with other Western Kenya counties, have consistently maintained such a lead for a long time now.

In the report, counties of Kisumu, Siaya and Migori followed with 17.5, 15.3 and 13 per cent respectively. Busia and Vihiga are also found on top of the table. Siaya county had earlier reported a covid-19 positive case (death) and several contacts currently in isolation.

Panic is now rife after the Ministry of Health confirmed the first Coronavirus positive case in the South-West-Kenya county Saturday. The patient’s condition is now being managed at Malela Health Center in Ndhiwa.

According to Health CS Mutahi Kagwe, the victim was the driver of other fake mourners, with an empty coffin, who sneaked out of Nairobi city county which is under partial lockdown.

Again, police in Homa Bay in conjunction with the county health surveillance officers arrested 13 people who travelled with the one who tested positive. They are currently quarentined at the Kenya Medical Training College in Homa Bay. Contact tracing has also began for those who might have mingled with the patient.

“Another group of 13 people from Nairobi has been nubbed, in possession of fake documents indicating that they were to attend the same fake funeral, allegedly in Karachuonyo. They were not aware that their counterparts who came ahead of them had been cornered,” Homa Bay county governor Cyprian Awiti explained.

Secondly, US President Donald Trump cut funding to the United Nation’s agency World Health Organisation (WHO) last Tuesday. According to reports, Mr Trump has accussed WHO of mismanaging the spread of the novel coronavirus and for failing to investigate the disease when it first emerged in Wuhan, China.

With up to 15 per cent in the 2018 and 2019 funding cycle, America is the biggest financier of WHO.The organization was involved in the slaying of small pox, polio and has been funding the fight against HIV and AIDs, amongst others. With Mr Trump halting his country’s funding of WHO, supply of free anti-retroviral drugs, amongst other measures put to curb and manage HIV/AIDs will be affected. And the effects will be felt up to the remotest part of Kanyadhiang’ and Kabuoch, Homa Bay County.

Thirdly, Homa Bay county is amongst devolved units listed for not having Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds, which are key in the management of covid-19 patients.

A recent analysis by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), upto 78 per cent of covid-19 patients requiring admission in an ICU have at least one underlying health condition. Again, this simply means that a catastrophy is lying in wait in Homa Bay county, the very moment when many people will start testing positive.

The best way to save the people of Homa Bay would have been to keep the disease at bay. But Coronavirus is now in the lakeside town and soon will be in the villages. Coupled with the poverty of the place, for once, we should expect doom!

There is no drug or vaccine for the virus yet.

By By Josiah Odanga

Multimedia journalist

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