When a group of concerned Kenyans attempted to raise alarm over the government’s shoddy handling of the deadly Coronavirus disease in February 2020, a top Principal Secretary from President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration heavily downplayed their worries, terming them as “short-sighted, careless and xenophobic”.
This was after a Southern China Airline arrived with 239 passengers in Nairobi from Guangzhou (the then second-most affected region in China) triggering an immediate uproar from citizens.
At the time, he was also quoted hitting out at critics; boldly claiming that the Chinese Virus was neither the first global epidemic nor was it the most deadly.
Today, Foreign Affairs PS Macharia Kamau – who in true Karma fashion recently tested COVID-19 positive – regretfully spoke from his home where he has been self-isolating and ironically called out the same government over its underwhelming management of the pandemic.
Contact Tracing Is Dead
In an exclusive piece by a local Nairobi daily, Macharia Kamau raised questions on among other things, how billions of shillings disbursed for the control of the virus were spent, as well as the effectiveness of the government’s “contact tracing” programme which, from his experience, he confessed to being non-existent.
He said after he tested positive, he quickly informed his contacts about his condition, but to his surprise, none of them has been contacted by the government.
“The government’s contact tracing has collapsed, there is no access to proper care. I have done my own contact tracing and I have informed all the people who came in contact with me in the 10 days prior to my test and since. They keep asking me where to go for a test and I don’t know what to tell them.” Macharia said, further noting that the only one phone call he received was from an NMS nurse who only called to confirm that it was indeed PS Macharia Kamau who had tested positive.
“For all the billions that have been spent on this campaign, it’s hard to imagine that at the point of contact where the disease actually happens, there is no system to make sure that we have access to proper care and the proper contact tracing,” he added.
Where have insurers gone to?
As the numbers continue to surge daily, Macharia has also expressed distress over the sudden “disappearance” of multiple insurance firms which after meeting with the Insurance Regulatory Authority (IRA) in March promised to foot COVID-19 bills for patients but have since made an unprecedented U-turn on the decision.
The private insurers held that the virus is a pandemic hence doesn’t qualify for cover, which means that patients have to dig into their pockets to offset accrued bills.
“What is scarier is that if my symptoms do become life-threatening, I may not have access to proper medical care because of lack of insurance and or a facility to respond. The story of the insurance, it must be sorted out now, not tomorrow but today. Something is not right,” he said.
Last week, the National Hospital Insurance Fund declared that from now on, it will only help in paying COVID-19 bills for patients admitted to government facilities alone.
The move piled even more anxiety among many COVID-19 patients and their households, in the wake of the decision by private insurers to end cover for such patients.
So far, Macharia says that he has only had malaria-like symptoms – hot and cold flushes and intense dizziness as well as disorientation, although he is yet to go to hospital.
He has also not had any breathing problems or acute depletion of oxygen in his blood.
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