Porous border blamed for Covid-19 upsurge

Department from Ministry of Health made courtesy visit to Kajiado County and tours in Namanga border point and Kajiado Town at Isolation centre led by Government spokesperson Col. ( Rtd) Cyrus Oguna. File Picture

By Abdi Hussein

The polarity of Kenyan-Tanzania border in Namanga town, Kajiado County is a major drawback in the enforcement of protocols to curb cross border Covid-19 infections.

The Ministry of Health in collaboration with security officer have intensified surveillance at Namanga One Stop Border point but clandestine routes used by locals seem to  water down the efforts.

All visitors entering Kenyan territory must have Valid Covid-19 test certificate and their body temperature is also taken before entering customs precincts.

The Namanga Covid-19 testing mobile laboratory is up and running targeting hundreds of truck drivers.

The laboratory has a capacity to handle between 500-600 samples daily giving results within five hours, thus minimising earlier reported delays.

Covid-19 protocols are observed on the Kenyan side of the borders as opposed to the Tanzania side despite deaths blamed on the pandemic being reported from the country.

Business people from both sides of the border mingle freely with very few wear face masks.

There are no Covid 19 testing facilities within the vicinity of the border on Tanzania site  prompting Tanzania truck drivers to  rely on Kenyan mobile laboratory for testing.

There is seamless movement of goods at the border point as the Namanga town slowly comes back to life.

“This is a killer virus sweeping villages back at home where most deaths have gone unreported. I contracted the virus six months ago but I’m lucky to have survived,” said a Tanzania truck driver waiting to be cleared.

Kajiado Oloililai Deputy Commissioner Mr  Justin Maina said the porous Kenya-Tanzania borderline has been the biggest challenge to curb the cross border Covid-19 spread despite stringent measures.

Mr Maina said they are currently using intelligence to block the clandestine routes being used to enter or leave the country.

“No one is allowed to cross the border without a valid Covid-19 test certificate, which must be verified by the Ministry of Health officers,” said Maina.

Another big challenge is that Maasai community families living along the border are spread across the two countries complicating control of movement.

Kajiado county Health County Executive Committee Member (CECM) Esther Somoire said much more is needed to contain cross border infections especially now the country is experiencing the third wave.

Somoire said the county remains the virus hotspot owing to the border entries that are overstretching the health department.

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