Unanswered questions as Weston Hotel is ‘cleared’ of cholera
Several questions have been raised after the management of Weston Hotel on Friday declared itself cholera-free.
This followed a press release sent to newsrooms by the hotel quoting the Ministry of Health having stated that “after facility and kitchen were inspected, the bacteria, Vibiro Chlorae has not been found”.
The statement also said workers at the facility were tested for the bacteria and were certified to be free of the bacterium.
“When we went to inspect Weston Hotel, no worker was found with the virus and even after inspecting the hotel’s kitchen there was no virus,” the hotel management quoted the Health Cabinet Secretary, Mr Cleopha Mailu in the statement, clarifying that he spoke last week.
The management also quoted the Nairobi County Health Executive Dr Bernard Muia saying he has also exonerated Weston Hotel after an “extensive investigation”.
‘’We assure the public and all guests that the hotel remains diligent in its operations and confirms that staff and food handlers are certified and continue to operate within the industry’s principles,” said Weston Hotel’s General Manager, Mr Michael Nzile.
“Weston Hotel’s top priority is the safety of its guests and employees and assures all, that its facilities are safe, in full operation.”
However, the Ministry of Health is yet to release an independent statement regarding the status of the hotel nearly a month later after there was a cholera scare, which led to the admission of 47 doctors in various hospitals in Nairobi.
The doctors gathered at Hotel associated with Deputy President William Ruto for a science conference late last month.
Both Director of Medical Services Jack Kioko and Nairobi’s county executive committee member for health Bernard Muia denied that there was an outbreak of cholera at the hotel.
Dr Kioko reported that the cases were as a result of food poisoning.
Later, they reported that the hotel outsourced caterers whom they said might not have met the health requirements.
However, the chairman of the organizing committee of the conference, Dr Joseph Aluoch, rubbished the Ministry of Health’s provisional results that the disease was food poisoning and gastroenteritis.
He also dismissed the government’s response, describing it as “political medicine which is bad medicine”.
The statement from the hotel has raised many questions with the public asking why it took that long for the investigation to be done and why the hotel was not closed like the rest.
“I am not aware of the procedure that was used by the Ministry of Health to declare the hotel cholera free but there are several answered questions in the whole thing,” said Dr Ojwang Lusi, Public health officer, and Kisumu’s county executive committee member of health.
He said he expected the hotel to be treated like the rest.
“If there is a possible scare, the first thing that ought to be done is to ensure that all the affected are treated immediately thereafter, the hotel is closed indefinitely. Why was it not with Weston Hotel,” he asked.
Dr Lusi pointed out that the management of the Weston Hotel should not have spoken on behalf of the Ministry of Health.
“Why we are being told about the status of the hotel a month later and this is coming from the management and not the ministry, something is not adding up the way the whole issue has been handled,” said Dr Lusi.
Contrary to Weston Hotel, the Health cabinet secretary Cleopas Mailu took uncharacteristic steps and ordered San Valencia and Jacaranda hotels closed indefinitely over the outbreak of cholera in Nairobi.
The two top hotels, according to the ministry offered catering services at a trade event at KICC where Cabinet Secretary for the National Treasury, Mr Henry Rotich, his Trade counterpart Adan Mohammed and Trade Principal Secretary Chris Kiptoo and several staff from the Trade and the Treasury ministries were later hospitalised after developing cholera-related symptoms.
Mr Mailu said the two will not be allowed to operate until their staff and facility are certified to be cholera-free.
The statement from Weston Hotel comes as the cholera death toll across the country rose to 14 with over 1,216 cases reported this year. Kenya has experienced cholera outbreaks with an ongoing epidemic in Garissa, Kisumu, Machakos and Nairobi counties.
The cases were confirmed from 12 counties with the Ministry of Health declaring Kisumu, Machakos, Garissa, and Nairobi as cholera hotspots.
The national government has since confirmed that they will deploy 5,000 youth to collect garbage in Kisumu, Kwale, Nairobi, and Kilifi in an effort to control the cholera outbreak in some parts of the country.
Ms Sicily Kariuki, Cabinet Secretary for Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs, made the announcement at a function in Jacaranda Hotel, which complied with the Ministry of Health directive to close until it tested its workers.