The government is now considering changing tack in handling the COVID-19 pandemic to adopt a home-based approach that could see patients in isolation facilities released to undergo medical care at home.

According to the Ministry of Health, two of the country’s major isolation facilities at Mbagathi Hospital and Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral & Research Hospital are almost filling up with COVID-19 patients even as the number of infections continues to rise by the day.

Mbagathi Hospital has a capacity of 112 beds. Kenyatta University Hospital, which as of Wednesday, June 3 had 346 patients has set aside 456 beds for patients who have contracted the Coronavirus

Health CS Mutahi Kagwe, in a press briefing on Thursday, said over 80% of Coronavirus patients in the country are asymptomatic which means they may be managed through home-based or community-based isolation facilities.

“If this is implemented, it would free our health facilities from congestion because we are reaching, for example in Nairobi, a time when both Mbagathi and Kenyatta University Hospitals are getting to full status,” said CS Kagwe.

He noted that the Ministry has completed the process of actualizing home and community-based protocols for roll out and to be implemented countrywide.

KU Hospital

“What this means is that a lot of people in isolation facilities may be released to be taken care of at their homes. Provided two things happen; first that it is in line with new World Health Organization protocols we are still looking at and trying to customize and domesticate to our situation and secondly, it has to do with facilities that families may have and where families are not able to self-isolate/quarantine, the government will still assist in the process,” said Kagwe.

He urged the public not to stigmatize patients who will end up being released to undergo treatment at home, adding that discipline will, however, be required for the new measures to work.

“A time is coming when we cannot continue as usual and we have to change tack.

When we see people come home let’s understand they are no danger to us and therefore there is no need for stigmatization. You will be safe but the people concerned will have to take care of them because they do not need hospitalization,” said the CS.

His sentiments were echoed by Ministry of Health Director General Patrick Amoth who said it makes no business sense to have COVID-19 patients who are asymptomatic managed in hospitals.

“This is a key intervention that is approved by the World Health Organization and it is meant to decongest health facilities and prevent the healthcare system from being overwhelmed,” said Dr Amoth.

“It makes no business sense to be able to manage these people in a hospital facility.”

Dr Amoth indicated that the home-care protocols could be launched within the next week.