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Scare as Covid-19 positivity rate rises to 18% as more people get infected

Kenya is reporting a sharp rise in the deadly Covid-19 disease infections as positivity rate hit 18% throwing the country in a scare.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe the positivity rate rose to 18% after 1,006 people tested positive from 5,584 samples while 13 died bringing the death toll to 3,895.

Kagwe called for increased vigilance from Kenyans saying the Delta strain which is more deadly was spreading fast.

At the same time, Kenya’s battle against Covid-19 was boosted with the expected arrival of more vaccine doses over the next few days.

Making the announcement Kagwe said the vaccine doses will start arriving in the country beginning next week to boost the ongoing vaccination campaign that has seen 1,692,793 of the 1,733,100 AstraZeneca doses received in the country administered. He said 640,450 people had already received their second dose by close of the day Wednesday.

“Kenya will receive 1,760,000 doses of Pfizer from the US government, 410,000 doses of AstraZeneca from the UK government, 235,000 doses of Astrazeneca from Greece and 55,000 doses of AstraZeneca from Lativia as part of bilateral donations,” Kagwe said.

The Covax facility has also allocated Kenya 407,040 doses of AstraZeneca and 271,440 doses of Pfizer. This is besides the 13 million doses of Johnson and Johnson, procured by the government through the AVAT-AU mechanism, whose delivery will start next month.

In preparation for the deployment of the Pfizer vaccines, which requires storage at minus 70 degrees, Kagwe announced that Kenya will be receiving 15 Ultra cold chain freezers from the UPS Foundation valued at 15 million shillings within the next two weeks. 

The freezers will be distributed to the Central Vaccine store in Kitengela and all the 9 regional vaccine stores across the country guaranteeing a shelf-life of 6 months. 

Logistics company UPS will manage the transport from the central store in Kitengela to the regional stores using special insulated devices from Pfizer known as Soft boxes – which maintain ultra-cold chain temperatures using dry ice. 

“From the regional stores, these vaccines will be transported to selected vaccination posts at temperatures of 2 to 8 degrees centigrade as is common with other vaccines. It is important to note that once opened, Pfizer vaccines cannot be refrozen and when stored at 28 degrees, they must be used within 28 days,” added the CS.

With the improved supply chain, the cabinet Secretary directed that all vaccination posts across the country immediately resume administration of the first dose of Astrazeneca.

The ministry of health will also be required to work with county governments and ensure all the 658 vaccination posts are supplied with vaccines during the month of August besides enlisting more posts to offer the services with a target of 3,000 posts by end of the year. 

Further, the Ministry will work with county governments to conduct outreach services aimed at increasing demand for vaccine services among priority populations and hard to reach areas. All vaccination posts under the National Government will also be required to remain open during weekends.

The ongoing vaccination campaign will also be scaled up and will be required to include radio and community sensitization meetings.

To enhance efficiency at vaccination posts, all persons taking the vaccine will be required to pre-register in advance for the vaccination date. This will be through self-registration on the Chanjo-KE system and through assisted registration at nearby facilities.

Staff working under county commissioners and community health workers will be required to assist those in need of assistance to pre-register.

The latest initiative is  in line with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s plan to have  10 million people vaccinated by Christmas this year and the entire adult population of 26 million by end of next year in an effort to achieve herd immunity.

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