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Nightmare of Sh168k quarantine bill for unlucky Akinyi, five family members

By the time Irene Oriwa Akinyi and her five family members complete their quarantine period, they would be required to pay Sh168,000.

This is the amount of money that has turned the single mother into a beggar.

“I have been thinking of how I will raise that money. That is the thing that has been in my mind since we were brought here. I have no idea of what to do,” said Ms Akinyi who is in quarantine at the Kenya Medical Training College (KMTC) in Port Reitz, Mombasa.

Ms Akinyi, 48 was taken to the facility on Saturday together with her three daughters, house girl and her eight-month-old grandson.

Here, she was told she would be required to pay Sh2,000 daily for each of the family members.

CONTACT TRACING

The family was picked up from their Mtopanga home in Mombasa, a few days after they had interacted with Ms Akinyi’s former husband who works at the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA).

Her former husband had visited the family after Ms Akinyi arrived in Mombasa where she had also gone to see her children.

Ms Akinyi had gone to check on her daughters who have been living by themselves as she struggles to make ends meet back in Siaya.

“We had agreed with my ex-husband that she will be seeing the children after every week since I was around. It is after his visit that it was reported that he had shown signs of the coronavirus,” she said.

TESTED POSITIVE

After the husband tested positive for the virus, he listed the family as some of the people he had come into contact with.

The family’s samples were then taken on Friday last week and told to expect their results by yesterday (Tuesday). By the time of going to press, it had not been shared with them.

Health officials later visited Ms Akinyi and forcibly took her and her children to the facility in Changamwe where they have been for the last four days.

“When they came I asked them to allow us to quarantine ourselves at the house or if not, then allow one of my daughters and her baby, but they refused. They were very rude to us,” she said.

Ms Akinyi, a blood pressure patient who has been surviving on small businesses back at her home in Rarieda in Siaya, she knew she was heading for a tough journey.

SH36,000 DEPOSIT

After three days at the facility, she was asked to pay Sh36,000 deposit.

“I thought of the minor and started making calls to all the people I knew. It is my church that later came forth and paid some money whose balance I have no idea where I will get from,” she said.

Here, she has also been left to suffer as she cannot access her medicines for other ailments.

“I am supposed to be taking my medicines daily, but these people won’t allow anyone to come see us. I can’t get my tablets and the ones I have will be finished today. They are killing me instead of helping. I am dying inside here,” she said.

“It was not our wish to meet a person who has tested positive for coronavirus. We did not bring this disease to ourselves, why should we be treated like this?” she posed.

With 91 confirmed cases, and over 400 residents in isolation, the coronavirus will be a blessing in disguise for the government-owned Mombasa Beach Hotel.

HOTEL’S MAJOR BOOST

For a hotel which has been quiet with little or no activity, hosting close to 300 KPA employees and their kin has been a major boost.

While the KPA management is footing the entire bill for its staff at Mombasa Beach Isolation Centre at a fee of Sh4,000 per day — translating to Sh56,000 per person for the 14 days — a majority of the staff have opted to send their kin to the same facility for isolation due to what they say is “poor living conditions” at the government quarantine facilities, including KMTC in Mombasa.

For the slightly over 300 staff, KPA must have coughed up to Sh16 million so far.

PAYING A FORTUNE

While the government facilities like KMTC, Kenya School of Government and some high schools have been charging Sh2,000 per person per day for food and accommodation, high-end hotels like Mombasa Beach have seen patients pay a fortune.

The high costs at the private facilities within Mombasa have strained the Covid-19 patients further as they struggle to make ends meet during this pandemic, forcing them to turn to Saccos for loans. “I am struggling to have my two children and the house girl put up in this facility. I am financing it through a Sacco loan, and savings. I did not intend to spend my money on this. It is distressing,” said a KPA employee who sought anonymity.

KPA is also footing the entire bill for employees who tested positive and were admitted to the Coast General Hospital Rahamtula ward. Patients admitted here have to part with up to Sh117,000, which covers doctors’ fees, sanitation, cleaning, among other services.