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KEMRI Issues Statement on Influenza Outbreak

  • The Kenya Medical and Research Institute (KEMRI) has dismissed reports of an influenza outbreak in the country.

    In a press statement on Friday, December 17, KEMRI stated information attributed to research it had conducted had been taken out of context and caused undue panic to the public.

    The research organisation issued the clarification after a section of media reported an influenza outbreak following a surge in flu cases.

    Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) Headquarters in Nairobi

    Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) Headquarters in Nairobi

    KEMRI

    “The alleged media reports indicated that the ‘outbreak’ is based on a total of the 36 samples tested over a three-month period from September to November 2021 during our usual surveillance exercise in the country,” reads an excerpt of the statement.

    Out of the 36 samples it had tested, KEMRI stated only four had tested positive for flu.

    “On average, the four positive tests within a three-month period may equate to nearly one positive case per month which does not reach the threshold of an influenza outbreak.”

    KEMRI clarified that higher cases ought to have been recorded for it to declare an outbreak in the country. The Institute based its argument on past outbreaks where there was a higher percentage of positive cases.

    “In one incident, 150 samples tested positive from a sample of 250; and in another case 14 out of 20 samples tested positive.”

    “We know from our long-term studies in Kenya that influenza viruses circulate all year, so you can expect a certain number of people to have the flu at any given time which is not considered an outbreak.”

    KEMRI noted that previous studies had shown that Kenya recorded two peaks following rainy seasons. 

    “In our opinion, the information above is not sufficient to declare this as an outbreak.”

    A number of Kenyans have complained of symptoms such as; fever, headache, tonsillitis, blocked nose and chest.

    The government, through Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe, has since addressed the matter, urging Kenyans not to go into panic mode.

    “Kenyans should not be concerned yet…We must observe the civility of the flu. So far, the statistics that we have should not cause any panic,” the CS stated.

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    Health CS Mutahi Kagwe address the press in May 2021

    File

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