The fear of bringing the Covid-19 disease home to family members is especially real for frontline health workers around the country.
Doctors, clinical officers and nurses have said the picture overseas is a dark glimpse of the risk they are facing, especially when protective gear has been in short supply.
In China, where the pandemic began, more than 3,000 doctors were infected, Chinese government statistics show.
While in Italy, the number of infected healthcare workers is now twice the Chinese total.
A clinical officer has contracted the virus and several health workers in a private hospital have been quarantined after coming into contact with persons who were later confirmed to have the virus.
Nairobi Hospital has suspended operations in six satellite clinics – Galleria Mall, Warwick Centre, Kiambu Mall, Rosslyn Riviera Mall, Southfield Mall and Capital Centre – and asked the staff to work at the main hospital’s isolation and quarantine units.
The hospital did not speak about speculation that a medic may have been infected in one of its satellite clinics, but an executive did ask persons visiting healthcare facilities to disclose their travel history, fever and any contact with a person suspected of having Covid-19.
“Failure to disclose pertinent details puts health workers at risk and delays implementation of Covid-19 protocols to save lives. Delay of implementation of protocols can compromise the quality of healthcare and may lead to unnecessary deaths,” said CEO Allan Pamba.
This comes at a time when health workers have expressed their concerns about the distribution of personal protective equipment to not only isolation centres but also hospitals.
Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union acting secretary-general Chibanzi Mwachonda said there is a need to ensure the safety of health workers.
“Because the pathogen has spread so widely, even medical workers not assigned directly to work with infected patients risk contracting the disease,” he said.
A clinical officer at a clinic in Ngara, Nairobi, was confirmed to have contracted the virus after interacting with a patient.
Dr Mwachonda said the hiring of 1,000 doctors to be trained early enough in expectation of the surge in the number of cases is a welcome move, but more needs to be done.
Elsewhere, clinical officers in public hospitals have threatened to stop attending to suspected Covid-19 patients if the Health ministry does not provide them with protective gear.
Kenya Union of Clinical Officers chairman Peterson Wachira, addressing reporters in Nairobi on Thursday, said the clinical officer was now in quarantine, as well as family members and other colleagues who interacted with her.
Mr Wachira said: “As health workers, we are ready to sacrifice and go the extra mile to assist patients, but we will not commit suicide by exposing ourselves to Covid-19 infection while on duty.”
He urged the government to adhere to World Health Organisation guidelines and provide the recommended gear to all health workers.
“All healthcare workers, including subordinate staff in the public health facilities, should be equipped with N95 masks, gloves, hand sanitisers and goggles to minimise the chance of coronavirus infection,” he said.