While doctors at Kakamega County Teaching and Referral Hospital fled at the sight of a patient who exhibited Coronavirus symptoms on Wednesday, March 18, two of Kenya’s finest are knee-deep in the epicentre of the pandemic, in the frontlines to rid the world of the dreaded Covid-19.
Doctor Nelson Odiwuor and microbiology research fellow Raphael Ohuru Nyaruaba are part of the team of professionals at work based at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The two are named as co-authors in research titled Rapid Molecular Detection of SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) Virus RNA Using Colorimetric LAMP
The ability to detect an infectious agent in a widespread epidemic is crucial to the success of quarantine efforts in addition to the sensitive and accurate screening of potential cases of infection from patients in a clinical setting.
Enabling testing outside of sophisticated laboratories broadens the scope of control and surveillance efforts, but also requires robust and simple methods that can be used without expensive instrumentation.
The team has found a method to identify Coronavirus using samples from respiratory swabs collected from Covid-19 patients in Wuhan, China with equivalent performance to a commercial test while requiring only heating and visual inspection.
This simple and sensitive method provides an opportunity to facilitate virus detection in the field without a requirement for complex diagnostic infrastructure.
While not much is known about Doctor Nelson, Nyaruaba got a scholarship to China in 2017 after a stint at Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) in Nairobi, where he did his internship.
“Since the current outbreak, we have been hands-on, trying to help as much as we can.
“I wasn’t deployed but I am studying. When asked to help, we all answered the call,” he told Daily Nation during a phone interview.
He is the Vice President of the Kenyans in Wuhan Association and has been able to safeguard them from the virus despite being in a high-risk area.
Meanwhile back in the country, Kenyans, who in unison had called on the government to vacate their compatriots in Wuhan for fear of contracting the disease, ironically seem to have turned a deaf ear on the government’s orders to avoid the spread of Covid-19, which was first confirmed on March 13.
By March 27, many had not heeded to the call to restrict movements and avoid gathering as was witnessed during the enforcement of the 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew.