Having gone through the tests at the airport and allowed into the country, Fr. Richard traveled, March 13, to the Kenyan port city of Kisumu for a funeral the following day at his home parish, St. Joseph’s Ugunja of the Archdiocese of Kisumu, he told ACI Africa in an interview last month, clarifying that he was one of the Concelebrants during the funeral Mass and “did not even give Holy Communion.”
“I did not know about the Kenya government’s directives around self-isolation when I arrived in the country,” Fr. Richard told ACI Africa, adding that when he learned of the directive after the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the country and considering his travel history, he took a flight to Nairobi and lived in isolation at the Holy Family Catholic Parish, Utawala of the Archdiocese of Nairobi.
Kenya’s Ministry of Health confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in the country on March 12 and reported to the public the following day, March 13.
According to Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper, the Cabinet Secretary for Health in Kenya, Mutahi Kagwe announced “mandatory quarantine for all travelers who arrived into the country from March 22.”
Fr. Richard got hospitalized on March 20 after presenting himself to a medical doctor at Nairobi West hospital with “something like mild chest congestion and nausea.”
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“I was taken to Mbagathi hospital and admitted that Friday Night; samples were taken on Saturday and the results came out at around 11 a.m. on Sunday,” Fr. Richard recounted to ACI Africa the events of March 21 and March 22 that led to his being informed that he had tested positive for COVID-19.
He was then moved to KNH, the country’s oldest and largest health facility serving as the referral hospital for the Ministry of Health and the teaching hospital of the University of Nairobi College of Health Sciences.
Recalling his health status leading to his being hospitalized and throughout the period of isolation, Fr. Richard has told ACI Africa that he did not experience any of the symptoms associated with COVID-19.
“Sincerely speaking, I have not had those symptoms of coronavirus that are known up to now,” Fr. Richard told ACI Africa March 26 and added, “I’m not coughing, no nausea, no throat irritation, no fever, my body temperature has been in the range of 36.4 to 36.7.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported about asymptomatic laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 to refer to people who are infected with the new coronavirus but do not develop symptoms and indicated that COVID-19 can be transmitted by these asymptomatic carriers.
Fr. Richard’s arrest and detention could be compared to that of the Deputy Governor of Kenya’s Kilifi County, Gideon Saburi who was arrested early this month just after being discharged from the Coast General Hospital. He is facing charges of defying the self-isolation rule by government.
Cases of COVID-19 have surpassed the two million mark across the globe and claimed at least 126,700 lives. Over 484,500 patients have recovered from the disease.
“There is a lot going on but the best thing is to forget about it and concentrate on my healing process,” Fr. Richard told ACI Africa during his last interview, March 26, underscoring the need for him to finish his treatment.
Fr. Don Bosco Onyalla is ACI Africa’s founding Editor-in-Chief. He was formed in the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers (Spiritans), and later incardinated in Rumbek Diocese, South Sudan. He has a PhD in Media Studies from Daystar University in Kenya, and a Master’s degree in Organizational Communication from Marist College, New York, USA.