NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 18- Coronavirus pandemic has claimed 17 more lives in Kenya, pushing fatalities to 1,954 even as 1,225 cases were recorded.
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said 114 more patients were admitted in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in hospitals across the country.
The new cases announced Thursday were detected from 7,308 samples raising the caseload in the country so far to 117,535.
Kagwe has warned Kenyans to take caution as the country experiences effects of the thurd wave ofteh pandemic that is sending more patients to hospital.
“Our actions shall determine how fast we sink or swim. Unlike before when virtually all our cases were asymptomatic, we are seeing a steady increase in hospitalizations,” he said.
Kagwe stressed that the adherence of Kenyans in observing the containment measures was the only solution to flatten the curve.
“We are asking for cooperation and responsible behavior in the fight against COVID-19. I urge Kenyans to be determined to fight this wave. This is not the time to tire but to invigorate our determination so we do not fall on the wayside,” he said.
With the ongoing vaccination exercise in the country gathering momentum, Kagwe reiterated that the Oxford AstraZeneca jab is not a silver bullet insisting that the compliance of the basic protocols like regular washing of hands and wearing of face masks is the ultimate remedy to defeating the virus.
“There are those who see a contradiction between increased containment and vaccination. Getting a jab doesn’t mean relaxing in wearing a mask, sanitizing.. Until we sufficiently inoculate the entire population and create immunity, we will remain at risk,” he said.
Kenya’s COVID-19 vaccine advisory taskforce Chairman Willis Akhwale has reassured the country that the AstraZeneca vaccine was safe and no serious side effects had been reported in the country so far.
“I want to assure Kenyans that there is no cause for alarm,” he said adding that out of the 17 million doses of the vaccine which have been administered globally only 41 cases of blood clots were identified which are unrelated to the vaccine.
In Africa, he said, out of the 850, 000 doses, 1,110 cases have been reported to have had mild effects but only five have warranted an investigation.
Until otherwise, Akhwale said that Kenya will continue to administer the AstraZeneca vaccine as it monitors the development across Europe where most countries have halted its use.
AstraZeneca’s shot, among the cheapest available, was billed as the vaccine of choice for poorer nations and the clot reports have had an impact beyond Europe.
Countries that have halted or delayed the rollout range from Indonesia and Venezuela to Sweden and the Netherlands, Ireland and France among others.
The World Health Organization experts are still studying the vaccine safety data.