Fresh details over movements, interactions of Kenya’s Patient Zero

A medical mask [Photo: Shutterstock]

The government has placed 22 more people under quarantine over fears of coronavirus a day after the first Kenyan patient tested positive.

Those quarantined are believed to have come into close contact with the patient whom government officials said was recovering well.

It is not clear where the isolated patients met and interacted with the 28-year-old female patient who remains quarantined in a self-contained room at the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH).

Sources told Sunday Standard that the patient, a Kenyan student living in America, presented herself to Mbagathi Hospital after exhibiting flu-like symptoms.

The Sunday Standard can for the first time reveal fresh details over Kenya’s Patient Zero, her movements and interactions and different modes of transport and possible contamination before she got to Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).

On March 4, Patient Zero left the Cleveland’s Hopkins’s International Airport to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport aboard an American Airlines Flight for the 40-minute trip. From Chicago, she again boarded an American Airlines to London’s Heathrow Airport.

During the eight-hour trip from London to Nairobi, Patient Zero says things started to be a bit suspicious. She told Ministry of Health Officials that she sat next to a coughing passenger.

Although her suspicions were piqued, she got to JKIA on March 5 exhibiting no symptoms. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) the incubation period -- the time between catching the virus and beginning to have symptoms -- ranges between 1-14 days, most commonly around five days.

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At JKIA, she and three passengers hailed a cab and split the fare. The four travellers parted ways in Nairobi CBD where she got another taxi and proceeded to Rongai.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe [Edward Kiplimo,Standard]

Cough and fever

In Rongai, she was housed by her boyfriend. Preliminary details indicate that the two-bedroom apartment was inhabited by seven other individuals.

On Friday though, a week after she arrived here, she developed a cough, then a fever and since she was well travelled decided to check herself into the hospital. She and her boyfriend hailed a taxi to Mbagathi Hospital where they were received by a nurse.

Six hours later, her tests turned positive. Almost 10 hours after the announcement about the positive test was made public, a Rapid Response Team from the Ministry of Health was dispatched to Patient Zero’s apartment where other seven occupants were taken to Mbagathi for precautionary tests.

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By the time of going to press, their test results had not been presented to the public, but they remained under quarantine in Mbagathi Hospital. Some 15 other patients presented themselves to Mbagathi between Friday and Saturday. They are believed to have had close contact with Patient Zero and other occupants of the house including her boyfriend.

At a press briefing last evening, Dr Mercy Mwangangi, the Chief Administrative Secretary at the Ministry of Health, said 23 other people on the same flight from London with Patient Zero have been notified of her positive test and advised to act accordingly. None are currently in the country.

But as the country awaits test results from the other 22 individuals, an Italian citizen presented himself to a private hospital in the city while a Ugandan and a Dutch national presented themselves at Mbagathi Hospital.

Currently, Kenya has some 200 testing kits. Each sample has to undergo four tests to verify results, meaning the available kits can only handle 50 samples. However, government officials said the country had ordered some 2,000 more test kits expected in the country tomorrow.