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People queue while waiting their turn to be tested for COVID-19 by Kenya’s Ministry of Health in the Kawangware slums of Nairobi © AFP / LUIS TATO

Capital Health

156 new COVID-19 cases reported in Kenya

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 6- Kenya recorded 156 new COVID-19 cases Saturday after testing 3,784 people raising the total caseload to 101,690.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said 130 of the new cases are Kenyans while 26 are foreigners among them, 105 males and 51 females.

A four year old and an 81 year old were among the new cases reported.

He said 34 patients had recovered from the virus among them 17 from home based care and 17 others from health facilities across the country

Fatalities remained at 1,776 with no death reported Saturday.

 Kenya has sustained a relatively low infection rate of COVID-19 pandemic since late last year.

The government is targeting to vaccinate 16 million people by end of the year to suppress the virus with vaccines from Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Johnson and Johnson.

Of the 16 million, more than 1 million health care workers and essential providers will be among the first people to be vaccinated against COVID- later this month when the vaccines arrive in the country.

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Health Chief Administrative Secretary Dr. Mercy Mwangangi said the first batch of the vaccines are expected in the country this month.

“We want to start with the most vulnerable group and that will start next month when the vaccine arrives,” Dr. Mwangangi said.

Kenya is acquiring vaccines that will be a mix of AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson and any other that will be included to the COVAX facility.

“Given the current global shortage of adequate vaccine stocks, the government is exploring procurement through other mechanisms like the Africa CDC, and plans commitment of doses to cover an additional 5 million people over the same period to achieve vaccination coverage of 40 per cent,” she said.

In 18 months, she said, 16 million Kenyans will have been vaccinated.

Already the government is in the process of developing required infrastructure for storing the vaccine.

While the country has an established a vaccination infrastructure with central storage facilities in Nairobi for vaccines requiring a cold chain of up to -20 degrees, she said there is limited capacity for -70 degrees in the major urban areas.

 “The government plans to expand and enhance storage space by the end of 2021. This is important so that the saving childhood vaccination programs are not interrupted,” CAS Mwangangi said.

She assured that any vaccine that will be used in Kenya has undergone trials, to ensure it is safe.

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In phase two of the vaccination, which is set to kick off in July and end in June 2022, 9.7 million Kenyans will be vaccinated.

The government said it will target mostly people aged above 50 years and those above 18 years but who have underlying conditions.

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