Anger welcomes Kenya’s spike in Covid-19 pandemic cases

Wednesday, May 6th, 2020 00:00 |
A section of First Avenue Eastleigh, a suburb in Nairobi. The estate which has a middle low-income area has 29 Covid-19 positive cases the highest in Nairobi. Kenya has a total of 435 positive cases. Photo/PD/KENNA CLAUDE

Kenya yesterday confirmed a record 45 new Covid-19 cases taking the total infections to 535. 

Following the exponential spike in new infections, an angry Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe warned Kenyansagainst an increasingly casual attitude, saying the government would be compelled to enforce more stringent measures, including closure of hotels and restaurants re-opened last week.

He attributed the high number of cases to failure to adhere to safety protocols. “Somehow, somewhere along the line we seem to have come to a conclusion as a society that things have gone back to normal.

Today as figures show, things are far, from normal. Things are very challenging,” he said, adding that: “Those that are telling others that things are better are clearly lying to them.”

He told the media at the daily briefing on coronavirus, Mutahi said Eastleigh and Kawangware estates in Nairobi and Mombasa’s Old Town were emerging as hot spots having recorded the highest of cases reported so far.

Out of the 54 cases, 29 were from Nairobi, 11 from Mombasa, five from Wajir and one  a Somali national. 

Following the surge, Eastleigh now has 63 cases, Old Town, 39, and Kawangware, 24, stretching the total number of infections countrywide above the 500 mark.

Kagwe criticised Kenyans for abusing the re-opening of restaurants to party while drinking alcohol in violation of the social distancing rule and warned:  “The country is now treading on a dangerous path.”

Singling out how a number of party lovers are responding to the opening of restaurants, Kagwe pointed out that there are alcohol imbibers who have devised a tendency of hopping from one restaurant to the next grabbing  “one sausage and two beers” until they drink into stupor.

“By doing so, we make mockery of our two months’ worth of effort to prevent this virus. Ultimately, we are inviting death upon our loved ones and upon ourselves,” he said, adding that wantonly defying the set containment measures will now bear the brunt of the law as he promised to take action.

He expressed concerns over the growing tendencies by Kenyans behaving in a misleading way saying “those who are exhibiting the indiscipline of leading others astray are becoming common phenomena”.

Safety protocols 

“I want to appeal to those who are not doing the handwashing, those not observing the social distancing, who are not observing the basic hygiene that it is as a result of such behaviour that today we are upwards at 45.

And we had been warned by those doing the modelling at the ministry that unless we change  we could see upwards of 50 people and of course this  has shown the picture of the model,” he said.

Kagwe said he has been sent messages by Kenyans expressing concerns that some people are flouting safety protocols and social partying, going to bars and congregating for Ramadhan against advice of their religious leaders.

He said the impacts of open gatherings in disregard to the containment measures have already been reflected in areas of Kibokoni, Kuze, Bondeni and Mlango Wa Papa in Mji Wa Kale (Old Town), which have now become hot spots behind spiking cases in Mvita sub-county.

Last week, Kagwe expressed concern over rising cases in Mvita predominantly within the congested Old Town, saying almost all cases in the area could be traced back to “a herbalist who died.”

The herbalist popularly known as Sharrif Karama was a nonagenarian who reportedly contracted the virus from a patient he was treating a few days before he was taken ill and rushed to hospital where he tested positive for Covid-19.

Karama died on April 19 and was buried the same day at Kikowani Cemetery in Tononoka area sending panic across Old Town.

His kin, including three children who lived with him before he died also tested positive in what now clearly points to the genesis of the spiking cases in the Old Town which now has 39 cases.

At Mackinon in Old Town, for example, it is not uncommon to see people coming out at around 6.30pm and gather around tables to grab bites of Iftar, a meal taken at sunset when Muslims end their daily Ramdhan fast.

They do this with little regard to social distancing despite daily reports indicating that Covid-19 cases in the area are increasing by the day.

But after being chided by Governor Hassan Joho, the residents have started to take caution.  They have, however, failed to heed his call for them to go for mass testing, arguing that they do not feel sick.

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