Only swift action will flatten coronavirus curve

Wednesday, April 1st, 2020 00:00 |
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe (right) with Government Spokesperson Cyrus Oguna (centre) and acting Director General of Health Patrick Amoth addresses the media at Afya House in Nairobi. Photo/File

The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Kenya had jumped to 50, as of March 30. 

Whilst announcing the development, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe noted that the virus is no longer being imported but passed on among ourselves. 

If there was ever a time for all of us to roll up our sleeves and face this pandemic, it is now. We need to move fast to flatten the curve. This is down to individual responsibility.

To contain the spread of the virus, China, one of the hardest-hit countries, introduced extraordinary measures, mid-January.

These included restriction of movement through the suspension of trains and flights. People were required to stay at home.

Patients diagnosed with the virus were immediately isolated in designated hospitals.

China stunned the world by building an emergency hospital in just 10 days! Home quarantine for contacts of the affected was initiated and large gatherings were cancelled. 

Because there were concerted efforts from all quarters to implement the measures, China’s new cases went down rapidly, with the country recording at most 55 cases a day, from 10th March.

Whereas the confirmed number of cases in Kenya is low compared to hard-hit nations, adhering to precautionary measures will see us reduce the risk of exposure and slow the spread of the virus.

The government projects that the Kenyan cases will rise to about 5,000 by mid-April and 10,000 by the end of April.

This is a prediction that does not have to come true. In the true spirit of our National anthem citizens, government businesses, civil society groups all have to come together to protect our land. 

The government’s response to the pandemic has been encouraging. Since the confirmation of the first case, ministries and agencies have expeditiously engaged their response teams in delivering quick measures to protect citizens.

The fiscal policy measures intended to unlock cash flow as pronounced by the President mean that businesses have the buffer to continue operating in a crisis, which then translates to retained employment and, ultimately, the ability for citizens to access basic needs. 

Another noteworthy step is the setting up a Business Emergency Response Team to spearhead the formulation of measures and policies to steer businesses and cushion the vulnerable, especially small businesses.

Industry is also making efforts to ensure that production, especially food and other essential commodities, continues.

To this end, the Kenya Association of Manufacturers has developed Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the workplace and shared with its members.

The SOPs provide precautionary measures to ensure the safety of employees within manufacturers’ premises. We have also launched an online directory ( to help the public and businesses access products and services to support their operations during this crisis.

KAM is also mobilising its members to amplify the nationwide hygiene campaign for citizens to practice sanitary procedures in public and private spaces.

The manufacturing sector is committed to ensuring there are at best, no, and at worst, minimal job losses as well as remain ethical and fair in pricing to enable, especially those whose daily wage will be greatly impacted by the pandemic, to cater for  their basic needs. 

Furthermore, the sector is prioritising the health and safety of those in our companies and communities, by strictly adhering to guidelines provided by the government under the Operational Safety and Health Act.

I urge all of us to do our part by adhering to the precautionary measures. We are a strong nation and it is through our combined efforts that we will have a swift recovery and a promising future.

— The writer is the CEO of Kenya Association of Manufacturers — [email protected].

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