Covi-19 containment success depends on individual behavior
By Adhere Cavince
During his fifteenth address on Covid-19 pandemic, President Kenyatta pronounced cessation of movement in five counties while also issuing additional guidance aimed at stemming the tide of infections and deaths from the pandemic. With the most affected counties of Nairobi, Kajiado, Machakos, Kiambu and Nakuru, collectively account for 70% of the reported Covid-19 cases, the country is currently grappling with a deadly third wave of the pandemic.
Kenya is now home to the new and highly transmissible virus strains. There has been a dramatic rise in cases with over 12, 000 persons being admitted in the month of March alone. The public health facilities are already overwhelmed yet the virus continue to sicken hundreds more; a situation that is only projected to tank in mid-May 2021.
A lockdown or other forms of restrictions are certainly not desirable. Many families are already reeling under the weight of Covid-19 induced economic difficulties. Millions of jobs have been lost and the nascent recovery seen in sectors such as hotel and industry that also forms the linchpin of tourism enterprise is likely to falter again.
Yet, failure to take action against runaway infections by the virus would truly be catastrophic. It is on this basis that Kenyans should uphold the Covid-19 public health measures, despite the accompanying difficulties. Our collective behavior is going to determine how soon we can turn the corner.
The pandemic is not a hoax. It continues to visit heavy toll and casualties on many countries and territories around the world. Even a casual glance around Kenya’s major towns reveals that we have lowered our guard. The hand washing points have vanished. The few that remains are dry. Majority of Kenyans spotting face masks are not wearing them properly. Public events including political rallies have all been too common in the recent past. In such events, where social distancing is simply impossible to observe, thousands of Kenyans were exposed to the virus.
The very skepticism that has played out with other aspects of Covid-19 containment measures is now threatening to derail Kenya’ vaccination programme. Low levels of public trust have seen most at risk groups shun the jab in a move that paint the perils of public distrust on public health. President Kenyatta has since publicly taken the vaccine, as a way of buoying public confidence in the process. While the Ministry of Health should roll out targeted public awareness to educate and inform while dispelling the malignant myths, other entities such as opinion leaders, the clergy and community mobilizers should equally do their bit in the national messaging call.
By observing set public health guidelines, some countries manage to successfully cut the chains of transmission and cushion their populations and economy from the virus. A return to normalcy was therefore possible, even before vaccines were released. Kenya too can defeat the virus, if individuals take the threat seriously and work towards the set guidelines.
It is going to take a lot of sacrifices from Kenyans and the government has to be responsive by implementing policies and programmes that are responsive to the needs of our society’s most vulnerable.