Residents of Old Town, Mombasa have kept off coronavirus testing rolled out on Thursday by county health authorities.
On the first day of testing, only 53 residents turned up. The area has reported over 15 coronavirus positive cases. The county had 108 patients of Covid-19 and 18 recoveries by Thursday.
Governor Hassan Joho has threatened to go to people’s houses if they don’t turn up for tests voluntarily.
The administration is also negotiating a lockdown of Old Town if numbers spike.
On Friday morning, Joho said the mindset of the residents is a major challenge in the process.
“We have to change the mindset of our people. I have heard some saying that if they get tested, it will break their fast. I don’t believe that is accurate. I have done the test twice since I interact with so many people,” Joho said.
The governor spoke during a live interview broadcast on all stations in Mombasa.
Health officials are camping at Old Town waiting for residents to go for the testing. Mombasa has so far conducted 3,000 tests.
The governor also said residents should stop the culture of communal eating on a single plate.
Joho said it was unfortunate that residents are hiding their neighbours claiming they have moved, further frustrating contact tracing and testing.
“Covid-19 is not a curse or a shame, we need to stop stigmatisation,” he said.
The county intends to conduct tests in areas that are most affected, starting with Old Town, then zone areas for targeted tests.
The county has so far recorded 30 per cent bed occupancy of all isolation wards and centres in the region.
Joho said the county can collectively conduct at least 4,000 tests, with Coast General Hospital able to carry out 1,500 daily. Another centre is the Kenya Medical Research Institute.
“Our hospitals are adequately equipped to treat the disease. We have a Covid-19 ICU at Coast General, ambulances specifically for Covid-19, consultants trained to deal with Covid, nurses and clinicians, but we can avoid being admitted by staying safe,” he said.
“Kenya Ports Authority was our biggest problem and we got 30 cases, then the spread was contained. We moved to Old Town. People have to comply,” Joho said.
In Likoni, social distancing was yet to be achieved although ferry users were using sanitiser and wearing of masks, he said.
“Mombasa is at the centre of Coast. We are the centre bolt and if we are not careful, we shall spread the disease in the villages where we have some people living there while working in Mombasa,” he said.
Joho said that individuals can self-quarantine in their homes as long as the environment was conducive.
“It is not a requirement that you are quarantined in a health facility. We have had people recovering from their homes,” he said.
Health officials in Mombasa say cases are mostly mild to moderate. Only a few are severe.