A top city hotel associated with Deputy President William Ruto on Friday declared itself cholera-free even as the public health department in Nakuru banned hawking of cooked food following the outbreak of the disease in the county.
The department also banned public transport vehicles (PSV) drivers from making any stops by the roadside to allow passengers to relieve themselves after seven cases of cholera were reported in the county.
“Nakuru for the past two weeks has received seven cases of cholera from travellers, most of whom fall sick immediately they arrive in the county,” read a statement from the department.
“No vehicle shall stop by the roadside for people to help themselves. Open defecation is an offence as per the County Public Health and Sanitation Act 2017,” added the statement signed by Public Health Officer Samuel King’ori. The notice was addressed to all people operating food establishments, PSVs, private vehicles and the general public, who are required to adhere to the guidelines immediately.
In Nairobi, questions emerged after the management of Weston Hotel declared itself cholera-free.
The hotel’s management released a press statement claiming the Ministry of Health had inspected its facilities and failed to find any traces of the bacterium — Vibiro Chlerae.
The statement also claimed that workers at the facility were tested 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 management quoted Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu in the statement, saying he spoke last week.
The management also quoted Nairobi Health Executive Bernard Muia as having exonerated the hotel after extensive investigations.
“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 General Manager 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,” he said.
However, the Ministry of Health is yet to release a statement regarding the status of the hotel nearly a month after there was a cholera scare, which led to the admission of 47 doctors in various hospitals in Nairobi. The doctors had gathered at the hotel for a science conference late last month.
Both the Director of Medical Services Jack Kioko and Dr Muia denied that there was an outbreak of the disease at the hotel.
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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 organising committee of the conference, Dr Joseph Aluoch, rubbished the Ministry of Health’s provisional results that the disease was food poisoning and gastroenteritis.
The statement from the hotel has raised many questions from 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 Health ministry to declare the hotel cholera-free but there are several answered questions in the whole thing,” said Dr Ojwang Lusi, a public health officer and Kisumu’s Health Executive.
He said he expected the hotel to be handled like the rest. Early this month, the Health ministry ordered the closure of San Valencia restaurant and Jacaranda Hotel over cholera outbreak in Nairobi.
“If there is a possible scare, the first thing that ought to be done is to ensure that all the affected people are treated immediately and thereafter, the hotel is closed indefinitely. Why was it not the case with Weston Hotel?” He asked
Dr Lusi said the management of Weston Hotel should not have spoken on behalf of the ministry.
“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.