NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 3- Kenya on Saturday recorded 20 new COVID-19 deaths, including 18 which had not been detected in the ast month.
This raised fatalities in the country from the pandemic to 2,206 since March last year when the disease was confirmed in the country.
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said, 1, 582 patients were admitted to various hospitals among them 187 in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
Kagwe said 1,184 more people had tested positive for the virus from a sample size of 7,139 raising the total caseload in the country to 138,077.
Country’s positivity rate stands at 16.5
Total recoveries now stand at 93,650.
Kenya has banned the importation, distribution and administration of COVID-19 vaccines by private enterprises in what initially targetted Sputnik V of Russia.
Effectively, Kagwe said licenses issued for the importation, distribution and administration of Russia’s Sputnik V have been revoked.
“The committee noted that co-participation of the private sector in the vaccination exercise now threatens the gains made in the fight against COVID-19 and we risk having counterfeit vaccines in the market,” said Mutahi Kagwe, Kenya’s Health Cabinet Secretary after chairing the COVID-19 National Emergency Response Committee (NERC) meeting.
He stressed that the government was fully committed in safeguarding the health of Kenyans and warned that those found violating the directive “will be dealt with accordingly.”
The decision to ban the importation and use of vaccines other than AstraZeneca by the government follows the publicity received by Russia’s Sputnik V which was rolled out in the country last week, mainly targeting the rich.
The Pharmacy and Poisons Board had confirmed approving the vaccine, but for emergency use only, saying marketing approval had not been issued.
The Kenyan government is administering the AstraZeneca vaccines acquired through the global COVAX facility.
More than 160,000 people, including President Uhuru Kenyatta have taken the jab that initially targeted frontline workers before it was opened up for other categories and people aged over 58.
But even as Kenyatta rallied Kenyans to take the vaccine and his Deputy William Ruto and other influential people opted for the Sputnik V.
Lawyers Ahmendassir Abdullahi and Donald Kipkorir were the first to get the Russian jab.
Reports indicate that the Russian vaccine has not been approved by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Globally, questions have been raised on the efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine after several cases of blood clots and deaths were reported in European countries, most of which have suspended its use.
Kenya said all vaccines administered in the country will be imported, distributed and administered by the government.
“We must ensure that the protection of the use of vaccines is first and foremost on the list. It does not matter on whether other people want to make incomes out of it,” he said.
Director of Public Health Patrick Amoth however assured that Kenyans who have already been vaccinated with the Russian Sputnik Vaccine will be able to get the second dose even as its rollout now stands jeopardized.
“But remember also in a pandemic situation the national public health security takes precedence over anything else including business demands,” he said.
Sputnik V which is reported to have an efficacy level of about 92 percent is the first such private consignment in Kenya that is being administered through a private pharmacy.