Kenyans fear they’re on their own as COVID-19 surges again

NAIROBI, KENYA (AP) — A Kenyan doctor died of COVID-19 over the weekend after no bed for him in an intensive care unit was available. Other doctors said they cannot afford the treatment they administer to COVID-19 patients, yet many work while dangerously exposed without protection.

Some health care workers organise fund drives for colleagues to pay medical bills.

As Africa is poised to surpass two million confirmed virus cases as early as yesterday, it is Kenya’s turn to worry the continent with a second surge in infections well under way.

The death of four doctors from COVID-19 over the weekend, due to neglect and hospital congestion, has sparked anger and pushed the medical fraternity to the edge.

The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union is calling for a strike starting next month for its 7,200 members, who represent the majority of the country’s doctors.

“Our lives as doctors will not be sacrificed in this manner. Doctors will not engage in suicide missions in the war against COVID-19,” the union’s Secretary General, Chibanzi Mwachonda, told a briefing on Sunday.

For many Kenyans, the strike notice is the latest warning that they are largely on their own in this pandemic.

Kenyans watched last week as President Uhuru Kenyatta inaugurated a new hospital with COVID-19 facilities for United Nations staffers and “the entire diplomatic community”.

And yet some Kenyans have complained of being turned away for care at public hospitals.

The country has over 70,000 confirmed cases, far less than some other nations, but it has seen a 34 per cent rise in new cases over the past four weeks.

“This has been a very bad week for us,” Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe said Sunday, a day after the four doctors died.