Kenya must seal her global spot in war on Covid-19

Tuesday, March 31st, 2020 00:00 |
President Uhuru Kenyatta. Photo/PD/File

Peter Murumba  

The coronavirus disease is now at our doorsteps. Some 42 people had by Sunday, already tested positive for the virus in Kenya. Globally 732,153 people have been infected and over 34,000 dead.

The existential threat of Covid-19 to humanity is real and in the end, there may be no nation that will be spared the vagaries of the pandemic and its impact on the political, economic and social order.

Kenya has put in place tough measures to tame the spread of the virus. These be effectively enforced until the pandemic is fully contained.  

The government should be commended for enforcing stringent public health measures designed to curb the potential escalation of the crisis within our borders.

The directives are mainly intended to limit person-to-person interactions, seen as a powerful catalyst of the virus transmission.

Additionally, travel restrictions including a lockdown of the country’s airspace are already in effect, with travelers into the country put under a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine.  

But even as the measures are implemented, many Kenyans are seemingly yet to take the threat posed by the virus seriously.

Social distancing remains complacent as evidenced by crowding in some public spaces.

Worse, some people continue to defy government directives on self-quarantine even when suspected of harbouring the virus.

Such reckless behavior is seriously endangering lives and could likely trigger an explosion of the disease in the country. 

This is why we must all religiously adhere to social distancing and other precautions to arrest the disease before it consumes us.

Those who fail to obey government directives should be made to suffer the full wrath of the law regardless of their social status.

Tracking of those who may have come into contact with infected persons must be diligently done to minimise the risk of community spread, identified as the next wave of the pandemic.

All persons must stay indoors except for essential movement which again should be kept to a minimum.

However, much as the prognosis of the pandemic may be bleak, it is notable that Kenya has scored some positive milestones that catapult her to the forefront of the global fight against coronavirus.

Some of the milestones have immediate benefit to Kenyans and the world while others will significantly boost the country’s ability to tackle other pandemics in future.

First, Kenya was recently chosen by the World Health Organisation and the African Union to host the African Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), effectively transforming the country into a future regional hub of medical research and disease control.

This will not only strengthen Kenya’s capacity to combat pandemics, but also benefit from transfer of knowledge.

Second, Kenya last week became the first country in Africa to unveil a telemedicine technology hub for detection of coronavirus. This will boost her ability to respond to a contagious disease that is spreading across the world like a bushfire.

The latter underscores Kenya’s march at the forefront of innovation in diverse fields.

The country was ranked second most innovative country in sub-Saharan Africa in the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s Global Innovation Index 2019, and number 29 globally.

Third, several eminent Kenyan scientists have been enlisted in the global search for a vaccine for the coronavirus.

They include respected virologists and epidemiologists based at the University of Nairobi’s Kenya Aids Vaccine Institute and at the Kenya Medical Research Institute.

Their role includes identifying suitable candidates for vaccine trials as well as research into coronavirus management strategies.

Again, this gives the local scientific community exposure to global best practice and expertise in medical research and innovation. It also further raises Kenya’s international profile in the global scientific circles.

The above demonstrate Kenya’s unique position to champion the global fight against the pandemic. This is a rare moment that Kenyans must not squander through laxity.

We must remain extra vigilant against the enemy by embracing social distancing and other State directives.  —The writer is the managing director, Impulso Kenya Ltd

More on News