Public needs timely updates on coronavirus virus

Thursday, February 13th, 2020 00:00 |
Passengers wear protective masks at Entebbe Airport, Uganda, Feb. 3, 2020. Ugandan government has stepped up screening for the deadly coronavirus at Entebbe Airport, as the death toll from the illness rises in China and new cases emerge in several other countries. (Xinhua/Nicholas Kajoba)

The coronavirus, which seems to be defying round-the-clock efforts by the Chinese government and top global medical experts to contain poses a real threat to humanity. 

That the death toll in China’s Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak, has hit more than 1,000—and still counting—is alarming. 

But despite the grimness of the situation, there is a glimmer of hope with reports that the tide of new infections is beginning to ebb.

To achieve the feat, China has had to marshall all its resources to fight this modern day plague—it has put up massive medical facilities, activated its research institutions to find a vaccine and instituted stringent movement restrictions, including quarantines. 

Its latest administrative action; the firing of several senior officials  for”dereliction of duty” over “handling of donations” shows the government’s seriousness in fighting the pandemic.

The impact of the virus on global travel, business, sporting and social interactions is beginning to bite.

This is why the race by scientists and top medical researchers to find lasting a cure for the virus are commendable.

The efforts need funding and backing from the global community that is already grappling with other health challenges such as cancer, malaria and HIV/Aids.

But most worrying is the weakest link to confront such challenges is in the developing world where response and follow-through mechanisms are wanting.

The political backing and institutional frameworks are weak. This is where intervention is needed to stem the virus.

And Kenya, which because of its strategic geographical position as a regional communications hub, and its special ties with China, is particularly vulnerable and needs better alertness and capacity to detect and respond to any suspected cases.

So far, this has been fair, but could be better. For instance, the updates on suspected cases that were quarantined for tests have been scanty.

This is a major weakness that finds excuse in the lethargic bureaucracy that makes the flow of critical information to the public difficult.

It’s, therefore, important for the government, especially in the Health ministry to keep the public informed on its preparedness and capacity to handle any suspected cases.

This is important to keep Kenyans safe from the outbreak—and the ministry has to wake up from its bureaucratic lethargy and give updates on the deadly virus. 

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