Stay at home, help slam brakes on Covid-19 spread

Friday, March 27th, 2020 00:00 |
Health CS Mutahi Kagwe Photo/PD/SAMUEL KARIUKI

Hesbon Owilla 

In his daily press briefings, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe has been imploring on Kenyans to limit movement and observe personal hygiene to stop the spread of coronavirus.

He, however, said some defiant Kenyans continue like it is business as usual, crowding supermarkets and attending gatherings.  

The reason the government is not enforcing a total lockdown is because of you and I.

An average Kenyan does not have savings to last even a two-week lockdown and most of us live from our daily wages, with zero ability to stock up. 

After listening to the CS, I took a drive around my estate to get an understanding of his anger. I was shocked by the carelessness of some Kenyans.

Inside my estate, some people, who had probably spent the Saturday night in crowded bars and night clubs, were playing basketball!

Never mind their kids and people in their households also interact with the rest of us.

Just outside the estate, the local butcheries and soup joints were buzzing with people enjoying themselves, not aware of the risk they are exposing themselves and their loves ones to. 

This virus is now with us and it seems like there is probably nothing we don’t know about the virus.

Terms like social distancing and quarantine are soon becoming clichés and folks are even going back to history to tell us the relationship between quarantine and the town of Karatina.

But it is shocking that we still want to behave the same way we behaved before the coronavirus outbreak! 

We need to get back to the basics. It all begins with you and I, let us stop it. Hospitals are not anywhere near the frontline in stopping this pandemic.

In fact, hospitals only come in after you and I have run away from our responsibility of stopping the virus and, worse still, if what has happened in Italy is anything to go by, our health facilities are not adequately equipped to handle the pandemic. If, therefore, we ever reach the Italy scale, we will have ourselves to blame.

Doctors won’t stop it. In fact, by the time you get to the point where you will be seeing a doctor, you shall have put your loved ones in danger.

Then we will have thousands of people seeking the attention of a limited number of doctors and the crisis will be beyond what our health and medical system can handle. But we can stop this now. 

You see, the virus does not spread itself; you and I spread it. The doctors, your money or even the security agencies cannot stop it from spreading. Do it for you. 

Why board a matatu that is full; why attend a gathering when the government is telling you otherwise?

If you stay home, wash your hands, avoid that favourite nyama choma, run away from mutura and keep off your favourite night club, we will be playing our parts in stopping the virus.

If we just played our parts in protecting us, there will probably be no one to infect and the virus will be contained as the healthcare system deals with the already detected cases that we can manage. 

If the scenes from Italy and the rest of the world do not scare us, let us for once think of how our carefree attitude is a fertile ground for the virus and the risks it poses. It starts with you and I.  —The writer is a PhD candidate in political communication

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