KISUMU, Kenya, Mar 24 – Panic has gripped a hotel in Kisumu where the Catholic priest who tested positive for COVID-19 spent the better part of Saturday, March 21 before leaving for Nairobi on Sunday.
A portman at the hotel who did not want to be named Tuesday said the staff are in panic after realizing the priest they had served tested positive to coronavirus.
The priest who returned to Kenya from Rome is among the eight new cases confirmed on Sunday, the health ministry Monday confirming one more from a person who interacted with the eight infected persons.
The caseload in Kenya currently stands at fifteen.
The portman, who was off duty on Saturday when the priest made a night stop over at the hotel, said over the years, the hotel has been accommodating the priest whenever he visits the lakeside city.
“I know the priest. I was away when he visited,” he said, adding, “everybody who worked on Saturday and made contact with the priest I worried.”
It was not however clear whether the hotel management had planned to have the its staff monitored and have any who meet the case definition for the virus tested.
The priest is also reported to have visited a colleague in Chiga, Kisumu East, where they conducted a mass together.
Health officials in Siaya County Monday launched a search for an unknown number of people who interacted with the Catholic priest in questioned after he tested positive for COVID-19.
Siaya County Commissioner Michael Oletialal said the priest visited several areas once he touched down at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
“The priest landed in the country on March 11 and spent the night in Utawala, Nairobi, before proceeding to Ambira on March 13,” he said.
Oletialal said the priest presided over a burial in his village of Ambira.
He said health officials are now combing through the village to have everyone who met him quarantined and subsequently tested.
The Commissioner said the priest in questioned presided over a mass during the burial in the village on March 14.
It is reported area MP Opiyo Wandayi attended the burial.
The priest also visited his colleagues at Lwak Convent.
“He later proceeded to Lwak Convent where he had time with the Sisters at the Convent,” he said.
Oletialal appealed to anyone who came into contact with the priest during his stint in Siaya to come out, be quarantined and get tested.
“The health officials and security apparatus is in the villages in Siaya where the priests is suspected to have visited, it is my appeal to the people of Siaya to volunteer and come out in case they had contact with this priest,” he pleaded.
Those who have been lined up for tests include his immediate family members, a priest in Sega where he spent a night, nuns at Lwak Convent where he visited and mourners who attended the burial.
Oletialal further announced that the health officials were also tracking down a resident of Ngiya in Siaya who is reported to have returned to the country from India before visiting Tanzania.
He said the officers will ensure the person is tested and quarantined for the 14 days mandatory.
“Once we get this person, we would like also to ensure that anybody who had contact with him are tested immediately,” the administrator said.
Meanwhile, Kisumu Centre for Disease Control managed by Kenya Medical Research Centre will run necessary tests for those meeting the case definition at a facility located in Kisian.
The Centre is one of the 5 centers now offering COVID-19 diagnostic services.