Governors want COVID-19 testing centers decentralized to counties

A blood sample which has tested positive for Coronavirus. 1,344 more people have tested positive for the disease/COURTESY

Governors have asked the National Government to decentralize coronavirus testing centres to the Counties to expedite action on suspected cases to curb likelihood of infections spiraling out of control.

Speaking in Nairobi on Wednesday during a presser on the Counties’ preparedness in curbing the virus, the Governors said it is imperative for the Counties to urgently have labs that would carry out the tests regularly.

Council of Governors Chairman Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya said currently, only two testing Centres at Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) and National  Influenza Centre (NIC) are carrying out tests and asserted that this poses a very high risk should the virus spread rapidly going by the numbers witnessed since last week to date after confirmed cases reached seven.

“We urge the national government to urgently equip Level Four and Five hospitals to enable them collect samples and test them in a timely manner,” said Oparanya

He further noted that the long turnaround time between collecting and testing samples is detrimental.

Governor Oparanya said that all counties need the testing Centres and called on the government to allocate emergency funds to the Counties to deal with the virus which has so far left over 7000 dead worldwide.

According to the Governors, the country is in the second week since the virus was first reported and added it is a critical stage, going by the precedence noted in other affected countries where infections rapidly increase every subsequent week, hence testing centres are critical.

Oparanya noted that currently, only one health worker per country is undergoing the training, a figure which he said is too low and called on the national government to increase slots for nurses to be trained per county.

He urged his counterparts to revive kitties for emergencies in their Counties to deal with the prevailing situation.

Oparanya was flanked by his Embu Counterpart Governor Martin Wambora who echoed his sentiments observing that suspected cases were in his county and he was able to manage on time but decried the fact that they could not test them due to lack of proper testing gadgets.

Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua on his part concurred with the views expressed saying “all counties have laboratories that can handle such tests during periods like this; we are waiting for approval from the National Government. Devolution has not been in the heart of some people in the system,” said Mutua.

Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa urged governors to continue setting up emergency Centres in their counties to deal with the pandemic that is now a global concern, a fact he said is timely.

“This enemy knows no borders. We need to work together and remain alert, vigilant as well if we are to contain this virus,” he said.