BARINGO: Deaths, Hunger Torment Residents Amid Covid-19 Outbreak

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Rampant loss of lives, residents go hungry without food as the harsh effects of Covid-19 pandemic take a toll in Baringo County.

Within the past two months alone shocker hit the classrooms after 15 teachers in the county died of Covid-19-related illnesses.

Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) branch Executive Secretary Joshua Cheptarus put the county health department on high alert.

“As a union we are still left in shock after losing and burying our 15 members between the month of August and September.” Cheptarus said.

Cheptarus said the victims lost their lives while receiving treatment in various hospitals, adding majority of them bore symptoms of Covid-19.

He listed five victims in Baringo North, three in Eldama-Ravine, two in Baringo South, two in Baringo Central and three from Mogotio.

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“Those are just teachers but many of locals out there have also fallen sick and died in the local hospitals. Indeed Covid is dangerous and it kills” he said.

The unionist said children who do not show any symptoms of the the killer disease are carriers of the virus.

“Children sneeze and cough in class; one might confuse with the normal flu or common cold, in the long-run, they infect the elderly teachers with the virus,” the Knut Executive Secretary said.

Based on this, Cheptaus said teachers should be prioritizedin the Covid-19 vaccination urging them take it and neglect the propaganda that the vaccines are not safe.

“Most of us received the vaccine and nothing serious happened,” he said noting that teachers should also be crusaders of Covid-19 vaccines in their rural villages.

In the last few weeks the county department of health registered higher number of critically ill patients diagnosed with Covid-19 and admitted to Kabarnet and Eldama-Ravine hospitals.

Some were later referred to Nakuru and Eldoret hospitals for further treatment.

“About half of the patients we received in our facility tested positive of Covid-19,” a staff at Kabarnet Hospital told Baringo News on condition of anonymity.

According to Charles Maswai, the Hospital Medical Superintendent, the the morgue which has a capacity of 48 bodies is already full.

“We request our people to collect the bodies of their loved ones within 72 hours to create space as the facility is getting full by day,” Maswai said noting that the highest number of unclaimed bodies lying in the morgue came from Tiaty, East Pokot Sub-County.

Covid-19 pandemic is attributed to the increased number of deaths currently experienced in the county hospitals.

Maswai said they have already sought permission from the magistrate court to acquire license to dispose the unclaimed bodies in the public cemetery.

“We are almost through with the court process and we shall soon be getting rid of the uncollected bodies in our facility,” he said.

He further noted the highest number of covid-19 cases registered in the county compared to the available facilities.

“Currently we have a capacity of only 8 beds in our Intensive Care Unit (ICU) which are less compared to the high number of patients” he said.

Hunger

Due to effects of Covid-19, hundreds of residents go without food as they lost their jobs or businesses, being their main sources of livelihoods.

Baringo Central Member of Parliament (MP) Joshua Kandie urges the Government to urgently supply relief food and School Feeding Programme(SFP) in order to save lives and retain children in school.

He noted with concern that the situation has reached crisis level saying thousands of children especially in the Arid and Semi-Arid (ASAL) regions in Kenya are likely to drop out of school in masses due to hunger bite.

“It is quite embarrassing and paining that instead of concentrating in class, our children especially in Baringo end up bending down to sleep on their desks owing to empty stomachs,” Kandie said.
He further said the school feeding program shall help children in remote areas catch up with other learners in the endowed parts of the country.

“I appeal to my colleagues in parliament in the next session to pass the bill urgently to reinstate school feeding programme to salvage our children drop out of schools in masses” he said.

He was backed by nominated MCA Francisca Cheburet who said it has reached her attention that majority of the children in majority schools across the county fail to return back to school in the afternoon as they go assist their parents hunt for water and wild fruits to feed on.

“Beside food shortage, it is also sad to note the local residents in most parts of Baringo at this century still trek miles of kilometers to fetch water downstream” Cheburet said.

Relief food

Apart from school feeding, MP Kandie also appeals to the government to consider distributing relief food to feed the hungry population in Baringo and its environs.

The legislator further said most poor families experience difficulty raising and even taking their children to school due to lack of fees.

He said the acute hunger situation was aggravated by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic which stroke the country in March last year.

“Majority of the people battle economic challenge after losing their jobs and businesses activities hence straining them from accessing their basic needs like food, clothing, shelter and school fees for their children,” Kandie said.

Worst hit areas are Tiaty, Baringo North, Mogotio, Baringo Central and Baringo South sub-counties.

Last week, Devolution Cabinet Secretary (CS) Eugene Wamalwa landed to distribute some few bags of relief foodstuff in parts of Tiaty.

But due to scarcity a larger population of people especially the victims of frequent banditry attacks, floods and drought missed out.

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