Drop in COVID-19 cases in Kenya a result of low testing, contract tracing-WHO

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BY JOAN WANJIKU,NAIROBI,31ST AUG,31ST,2020-The World Health Organisation has put an asterisk on the progressive decline in number of COVID-19 cases in Kenya over the last three weeks.

WHO in a statement “on the recent decline of COVID‐19 cases in Kenya” noted that while the drop follows trends for Nairobi and Mombasa counties, it does not show the real picture nationally since other counties are reporting an increase.

“This decline closely mirrors trends for Nairobi and Mombasa counties which account for 64% of the total cases. However, this potentially may mask the national picture, as other counties are experiencing increasing case numbers,” reads the statement released August 31.

During the same period of decline, a decline in number of laboratory tests being conducted has also been noted.

The global health body was critical of Kenya’s testing strategy noting that it targeted low risk groups while some county laboratories reported shortage of test kits and or specimen collection kits.

WHO also said there has also been “reduced effective contact tracing” which has resulted in fewer cases being found.

“There has also been minimal contact tracing in the recent past among the top 10 counties with highest burden of disease. Fifty‐eight percent of the cases have pending, incomplete contact tracing and only 129 positive contacts were reported from 1st August to 23rd August 2020. In Nairobi 42% of cases were pending contact listing, while over 90% were pending in Kiambu, Machakos, Mombasa, Kajiado, Busia and Nakuru Counties,” the statement reads.

But while WHO Kenya said it was encouraged by the reported declining number of COVID‐19 cases, the health body cautioned against “a too rapid interpretation that this decline in reported numbers already constitutes a true decline in the spread of the disease.”

WHO has asked for more widespread laboratory testing and contact tracing takes place to help bring out complete data.

“While these are encouraging quality indicators that may be used as proxy to decreased transmission, the findings should be treated with caution,” reads the statement.

“Testing needs to be strengthened to capture a greater proportion of suspected cases within the testing regimen.”

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