NAIROBI - At least 41 employees at the country's largest maternity hospital have tested positive for the coronavirus, Kenya's Ministry of Health said Tuesday.
Director General of Health Dr. Patrick Amoth announced that 19 health care workers and 22 support staff have tested positive at the Pumwani Maternity Hospital in Nairobi.
The ministry of health had conducted mass testing at the facility, where more than 100 babies are born each month.
After visiting the facility Tuesday, Amoth said the government was putting in place measures to stop further spread of the virus.
"We have a remaining batch of 100 staff members to be tested. Out of the 290 who were tested, 41 turned positive," he said. "All these 41 have been on home-based isolation. They qualified for home-based care because a majority of our people are asymptomatic. Ninety percent of the infections we get in our set-up are asymptomatic. That gives us a very good platform to implement home-based care and interventions."
With the increase in coronavirus cases in the country, access to safe health care has been a challenge to both those seeking the services and health care providers. Kenya's ministry of health in the last week announced that 257 health care workers had tested positive.
On Monday, Kenya buried the first doctor to succumb to the ailment. The coronavirus causes the COVID-19 disease.
Since the pandemic hit Kenya in March, the country's doctors and the nurses' union have threatened several times to go on strike, saying the government is not doing enough to provide protective gear to health care workers on the coronavirus front lines, especially in public health facilities.
Even as testing continues, it is not clear how many babies may have been exposed to the virus at Pumwani or how the government plans to trace those who may have been exposed to the confirmed cases. According to the Johns Hopkins University's COVID-19 dashboard, Kenya currently has nearly 10,300 confirmed cases and 197 deaths.
Amoth said the government is working to mitigate the crisis.
"We have agreed that beginning today, we will have an isolation center dedicated for staff at the hospital at the school of nursing for those who might not meet the criteria for home-based isolation, so ours is a mission of support and also fact-finding to see what is on the ground and assure the public that we are doing everything possible," he said.
Amoth said Pumwani Hospital is safe. He did, however, say in a tweet that the facility would only be open for complicated delivery cases. He advised patients to access maternal health services from other, nearby facilities.