COVID-19

Across Kenya, there has been an increase in COVID-19 cases over the past few weeks. As of 30 April 2021, 159,318 confirmed COVID-19 cases were reported in Kenya. The national positivity rate is at 9.7%. There has been an increase in the number of persons who test positive for COVID-19 and show symptoms, unlike previously where most individuals did not have symptoms. The surge in cases has also been witnessed in Kakuma. In Kakuma and Kalobeyei, a total of 935 individuals were diagnosed with COVID-19. The positivity rate was at 4.9% among humanitarian workers and 7% among refugees and asylum seekers. There have also been 12 deaths among asylum seekers and refugees.

The latest statistics are available at  Ministry of Health’s Twitter Account.

To curb the transmission of COVID-19 among asylum seekers, refugees, humanitarian workers and host community, all agencies need to limit their activities to life-saving and temporarily limit community activities in the camps and settlement. This is in line with the 14th Presidential Directive that prohibits all social and political gatherings for a period of 30 days.

According to the Presidential Directive dated 26 March 2021 movement in and out of the counties of Nairobi, Machakos, Kajiado, Kiambu and Nakuru is suspended. In Turkana, the curfew of 10pm to 4am remains in effect.

Observe COVID-19 prevention measures at all times!


1.   COVID-19 Symptoms

Common symptoms include: Cough, fever, difficulty in breathing.

Other symptoms may include but are not limited to fatigue, running nose, loss of taste or smell, headache, sore throat, muscle aches or pains, and diarrhea.

You can find more information about COVID-19 from the World Health Organisation here.


2.   Risk Groups

While COVID-19 presents a risk to all people including children, there are some people who are at a higher risk. These include persons:

  • with underlying illnesses such as diabetes mellitus, hypertension, asthma
  • who are 50 years and above.


3.   Preventive Measures

  1. Wear a mask in public, covering you mouth and nose. This is mandatory in Kenya. Wearing a mask on your chin or only covering your mouth does not prevent transmission. Children above the age of five should also wear masks.
  2. Maintain a physical distance of at least 1.5 meters. Maintain an even greater distance between yourself and others when indoors. The further away, the better.
  3. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water. If this isn’t immediately available, you can use an alcohol-based sanitizer. However, visibly soiled hands must be washed with soap and water.
  4. Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing.
  5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.


4.   What to Do If You Are Experiencing Symptoms

If you experience any of the COVID-19 symptoms you should notify the nearest health worker (including community health workers) and quarantine at home for a minimum of 10 days. However, if you develop severe symptoms such as difficulty in breathing, you should seek treatment at the nearest health facility.

Please call the COVID-19 hotlines to ask for guidance:

  • International Rescue Committee (IRC) – 0800720605 (toll free)
  • Africa Inland Church Health Ministries (AICHM) – 0800720845 (toll free)
  • Kenyan Red Cross Society (KRCS) – 0706173705
  • Ministry of Health – 719 (toll free) or dial *719#

You can find a list of all health facilities and their locations as well as which agency manages them here.


5.   Quarantine and Isolation

What is the difference between quarantine and isolation? 

Quarantine keeps someone who might have been exposed to the virus away from others.

Isolation keeps someone who is infected with the virus away from others. Both isolation and quarantine can be undertaken at the home based on whether the patient is stable or not.

Support is provided for those in quarantine and isolation.

Who should be in quarantine?

  • All newly arrived asylum seekers coming from another country.
  • Any refugee or asylum seeker who recently travelled from other parts of Kenya to Kakuma and Kalobeyei.
  • Anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for the COVID-19.

Who should be in isolation?

  • Anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

What happens during quarantine at the Reception Centers?

Newly arrived asylum seekers will be quarantined in the reception centers.  A health worker will screen all individuals for signs of COVID and any other underlying medical issues. Individuals with signs of COVID-19 (cough, fever, difficulty in breathing) will be isolated and a COVID-19 test will be undertaken.

Individuals with no symptoms will undergo the COVID test within 3-5 days from arrival at the reception center. If negative the individual will be discharged from the quarantine facility.

What happens in home-based quarantine and home-based isolation?

When an individual tests positive for COVID-19, they will be requested to isolate at home if they do not show symptoms or in a health facility if they have symptoms for period of 10 days. Health care workers will trace the person’s contacts to ensure that they also quarantine for 10 days. During the period of isolation at home, community health workers will provide support including counselling and follow-up on symptoms. If somebody in home-based care experiences severe symptoms they should inform the visiting community health worker who will ensure that they are referred for isolation at a health care facility.

After 10 days of isolation at home the individuals will be discharged from follow-up. However, those who exhibit symptoms beyond the 10-day period will be requested to continue isolating until three days after cessation of symptoms.

What happens during isolation in health facilities?

Symptomatic individuals and those with underlying medical conditions who have tested positive for COVID-19 will be treated at the isolation facilities. While at the isolation facility, the medical teams will closely monitor these individuals and offer them treatment based on the identified signs and symptoms. After 10 days of isolation, individuals who show no symptoms will be tested and discharged from the isolation facility. Those who show symptoms will be retained in isolation until three days after cessation of symptoms.

Services in quarantine and isolation at a facility

  • Once at the quarantine/ isolation facility, your personal information will be collected: Name, age, nationality, travel history, close contacts and address.
  • You will receive personal items that you will require during your stay: Mug, spoon and plate, mosquito net, mattress, sleeping mat and blankets. You will also be provided with a place to sleep.
  • Health workers will monitor your vitals including temperature and provide treatment as appropriate.
  • You will be served three hot meals a day.
  • Expectant women will continue to receive Antenatal Care (ANC). Immunization services are also available for young children.
  • A psychosocial counsellor will ensure your wellness and help you manage your stress and anxiety.
  • After completing the quarantine or isolation period and being discharged, all new arrivals will undergo the registration process, be issued with ration cards and Bamba Chakula, and allocated shelter before relocating to the community.
  • Members of the community will be discharged back to the community after completing their quarantine or isolation period and being discharged.


6.  Information about COVID-19 Vaccines

Kenya is using the Astra Zeneca vaccine that is given in two doses (the second dose 8 weeks after the first dose).  The vaccine was rolled out in Kenya in nine counties on 4 March 2021. COVID-19 vaccinations in Kenya will be carried out in three phases between 2021 and 2023. The first phase is targeting health workers, security personnel, teachers, workers in institutions of learning, clergy and individuals aged 58 years and above. The second phase will target individuals  aged 18 years and above with underlying illnesses. The third phase will target persons aged 18 years in congregate settings.

Possible side effects may include pain, redness, swelling at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, nausea.

Please note that these side effects are common even to vaccines used against other diseases.


7. Frequently Asked Questions on Vaccines for Persons Aged 58 and Above

Purpose: These Frequently Asked Questions are related to the first phase of Covid-19 vaccinations which Government of Kenya is undertaking and is targeting refugees aged 58 years and above in Kakuma and Kalobeyei.

Please note that he vaccination roll-out is just starting, therefore adjustments will be needed. This FAQ and other information will be updated and shared with you accordingly.

KEY MESSAGE: All refugees who are 58 years old and above can go to Ammausiat General Hospital (Kakuma) between Monday- Friday from 0830am – 0300pm to get their COVID- 19 vaccination.

1.Are COVID- 19 vaccines safe?
Yes. The World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners have confirmed that COVID-19 vaccines are safe.

2. Are the vaccines effective against new strains of COVID-19?
It is possible that the vaccine has reduced efficacy against some of the new strains, but research shows that even for new strains the vaccines protections from severe effects. While further research will continue, according to the advice by WHO (UN’s Health Agency) the vaccinations should continue as planned.

3. Is the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory?
No. Receiving the vaccine is optional but we encourage those aged 58 years and above to get vaccinated as they are at a higher risk of getting infected and developing severe disease which may lead to death.

4. What are the benefits of getting vaccinated?
The COVID-19 vaccine reduces the chances of getting severe disease which can lead to hospital admissions or death.
The vaccine does not prevent you from getting COVID-19.

5. Which covid-19 vaccine will be available?
The Ministry of Health has approved the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

6. Who is eligible for the COVID vaccine?
During this first phase of vaccination the Ministry of Health has targeted frontline health workers, teachers, police, and those aged 58 years and above.
The rest of the population will be vaccinated later according to the Ministry of Health plan.

7. Can I bring my other family members for vaccination?
No. Currently, the Ministry of Health has prioritized individuals above 58 years for this phase of vaccination. Other family members above 18 years will be vaccinated later based on the Ministry of Health plan.

8. Where can I get my vaccinations?
You can get the COVID-19 vaccine at the Ammusait General Hospital (Clinic 7) located in Kakuma 4. The clinic will be open Monday-Friday between 8:30am – 3:00pm.

9. What are the most common side effects after getting a COVID-19 vaccine?
Over two hundred (200) individuals have been vaccinated in Kakuma and no one has exhibited any adverse effect following immunization. These include individuals from UNHCR, RAS, other agencies and other refugees.
Few common side effects that some people may have are pain, redness, and swelling in the arm where you received the shot, as well as tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, and nausea throughout the rest of the body. These side effects will go away in a few days (1-2 days).


8. COVID-19 Myths

FACT: Spraying and introducing bleach or another disinfectant into your body WILL NOT protect you against COVID-19 and can be dangerous

Do not under any circumstance spray or put  bleach or any other disinfectant into your body. These substances can be poisonous if ingested and cause irritation and damage to your skin and eyes.

Bleach and disinfectant should be used carefully to disinfect surfaces only. Remember to keep chlorine (bleach) and other disinfectants out of reach of children.

FACT: Eating garlic does NOT prevent COVID-19

Garlic is a healthy food that may have some antimicrobial properties. However, there is no evidence from the current outbreak that eating garlic has protected people from the new coronavirus.

FACT: Being able to hold your breath for 10 seconds or more without coughing or feeling discomfort DOES NOT mean you are free from COVID-19

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are dry cough, tiredness and fever. Some people may develop more severe forms of the disease, such as pneumonia. The best way to confirm if you have  the virus producing COVID-19 disease is with a laboratory test.  You cannot confirm it with this breathing exercise, which can even be dangerous.

FACT: The prolonged use of medical masks* when properly worn, DOES NOT cause CO2 intoxication nor oxygen deficiency

The prolonged use of medical masks can be uncomfortable. However, it does not lead to CO2 intoxication nor oxygen deficiency. While wearing a medical mask, make sure it fits properly and that it is tight enough to allow you to breathe normally. Do not re-use a disposable mask and always change it as soon as it gets damp.

FACT: People of all ages can be infected by the COVID-19 virus

Older people and younger people can be infected by the COVID-19 virus. Older people, and people with pre-existing medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.

WHO advises people of all ages to take steps to protect themselves from the virus, for example by following good hand hygiene and good respiratory hygiene.

FACT: Exposing yourself to the sun or temperatures higher than 25°C DOES NOT protect you from COVID-19

You can catch COVID-19, no matter how sunny or hot the weather is. Countries with hot weather have reported cases of COVID-19. To protect yourself, make sure you clean your hands frequently and thoroughly and avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.

For more COVID-19 Myth Busters see WHO’s Website.


9.   How to Prevent Stigma Associated with COVID-19

Persons who have gotten sick with COVID-19 often experience stigmatization. It is understandable that there is confusion, anxiety, and fear among the public. COVID-19 is a disease that is new and there are still many unknowns. Humans often fear the unknown, however, this fear can fuel harmful stereotypes.

Stigma can:

  • Drive people to hide the illness to avoid discrimination.
  • Prevent people from seeking health care immediately.
  • Discourage them from adopting healthy behaviours.

It is important to remember that COVID-19 can affect anyone.

Be kind!

Each one of us has a role to play in preventing discrimination through kindness, speaking up against negative stereotypes, learning more about mental health and sharing individual experiences to provide the support needed. We all need to show empathy to those affected, understanding the disease itself, and adopting effective, practical measures so people can help keep themselves and their loved ones safe.

Words matter!

When talking about coronavirus disease, certain words (i.e suspect case, isolation…) and language may have a negative meaning for people and fuel stigmatizing attitudes. They can perpetuate existing negative stereotypes or assumptions, strengthen false associations between the disease and other factors, create widespread fear, or dehumanise those who have the disease. This can drive people away from getting screened, tested and quarantined.

Do talk about “people who have COVID-19” or “people who are being treated for COVID-19”.

Don’t say “COVID cases” or “COVID victims”.

Do talk about “people who may have COVID-19”.

Don’t talk about “COVID-19 suspects” or “suspected cases”.

Do speak accurately about the risk from COVID-19, based on scientific data and latest official health advice.

Don’t create fear by calling it a “plague” or “apocalypse”.

Spread Facts not Fear!

Stigma can be heightened by insufficient knowledge about how COVID-19 is transmitted and treated, and how to prevent infection. Here are some steps to help stop the spread of misinformation:

  • Use only credible, official sources such as the Kenyan Ministry of Health, WHO and UN Agencies.
  • Check the facts on official websites or social media platforms before acting, believing advice or sharing information online.
  • Don’t spread misinformation, even if it seems accurate.

If you are feeling anxious, sad or stigmatised due to COVID-19, try the following:

  • Talk to people you trust: contact your friends and family and support one another.
  • Talk to a health worker, social worker, community volunteers, or another trusted person in your community (e.g., religious leader or community elder).
  • Draw on skills that you have used in the past during difficult times to manage your emotions during this time.

You can also write to UNHCR and visit the HELP site for more information on mental health support.


See also

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