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My COVID-19 Pandemic Experience in Kenya, March 2020-June 2020

The key roles i played during COVID-19 pandemic in Kenya include:

  • Primary screening: Screening patients at Points of Entry (P.O.E), Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA). Screening involved checking temperatures using thermometer guns and thermal scanners in Personal Protective Equipment for all passengers arriving in the country from abroad and filling surveillance forms for passengers arriving from COVID-19 high risk countries.
  • Secondary screening: Been a medical Officer I was mandated to do secondary screening at JKIA. This involved clerking patients who had a fever with temperature above 37.2 degrees Celsius. Clerking involved taking a detailed history- Travel history, signs and symptoms and medications. Screening at Points of Entry 02-March 2020-19th March 2020.
  • Contact Tracing: Contact tracing involved follow up of persons who were in contact with a confirmed COVID-19. The contacts were grouped into primary contacts and secondary contacts. Primary contacts are persons who were directly linked to COVID-19 Confirmed cases while secondary cases were indirectly linked. Contact Tracing at the National level for all counties from 23rd March 2020- 8th May 2020. Contact Tracing at the County level from 8th May to date.
  • Port Health department at JKIA had put structures in place to ensure heightened surveillance. However, some challenges were experienced:

    • Inadequate Personal Protective Equipment mostly disposable gowns and N 95 Masks - During Secondary screening which was carried out at the nursing station there was reduced social distance. Hence N95 masks and disposable gowns were necessary. Waqo (FELTP) was able to contact DSRU and above was provided.
    • Medical forms for Secondary screening - Forms specific to COVID-19 secondary screening were not provided. However, after contacting DSRU we were able to get a copy of case investigation form for 2019 Novel Corona Virus 2019-Ncov
    • Dysfunctional thermometer guns and thermal scanners - Some of the thermometer guns used for Primary screening would give wrong readings. The thermal scanners would also go off. To improve readings both gadgets would be used for checking temperature.

    As a FELTP resident, applying my knowledge during COVID-19 response was exciting and very helpful. Screening at the P.O.E was a new experience especially dealing with international patients, learning that it is key to have knowledge of disease distribution and patterns around the world and at this point epidemiology was helpful. During screening at P.O.E., it is key to find out which countries passengers had travelled from. It was with great concern we noted that some passengers reported to have come from South Africa/ Dubai yet they had been on transit from COVID-19 high risk countries. Coordinating all teams (contact tracing, rapid response teams(RRT), Evacuation teams and quarantine teams) would yield better and faster response.

    My perception regarding progression of the disease is that COVID-19 disease is yet to spread to the rural areas of Kenya that has a bigger geriatric population and reduced access to health facilities. At this point in time both preventive and curative structures at rural levels should be put in place.

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