We must all unite to flatten Corona curve, CS Kagwe warns

Friday, May 29th, 2020 00:00 |
Health CS Mutahi Kagwe. Photo/PD/Kenna Claude

Kenya yesterday recorde the highest cases (147) cases of Covid-19 infections in a single day— a new high after Wednesday’s 123— bringing the total infections to 1,618.

As Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe warned in his Wednesday briefing, the virus has hit informal settlements, especially in Nairobi, which, together with Mombasa, account for two thirds of all the cases in the country. 

And going by the infection rate, the trajectory points to the unsettling fact that there could be a new high every day. 

This comes against the projection by medical scientists from the University of Nairobi, that at least two million Kenyans are at risk of infection by January.

In a presentation to the Senate ad hoc committee on Covid-19, Prof Omu Anzala, the director of Kenya Aids Vaccine Initiative, said of the infections, 355,909 people will asymptomatic while 114,740 will exhibit severe symptoms.

The report also mentions 15 red zone counties including Nairobi, Kiambu, Meru, Machakos, Nakuru, Kilifi and Bungoma, because they bear heavy burden of underlying health conditions and  aged population. 

According to the World Health Organisation, people with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, HIV/Aids and hypertension, are more prone to the killer respiratory disease. 

We, therefore, call on all Kenyans to stop having what Kagwe termed “a false sense of immunity” and adhere to the safety measures and protocols prescribed by experts to curb the spread. 

Honestly, by now nobody can feign ignorance that they do not know how to stay safe.

But what is worrying is the business-as-usual attitude of some Kenyans and the notion that it is the government which should protect them from the virus. 

As the government rallies Kenyans to fight the spread, it will be critical to pay more attention to informal settlements where observing social distance and high standards of hygiene are a challenge because of dense populations and poverty.

These environments will need to be handled sensitively. Besides the government interventions to assist vulnerable households, it will take people with the right chemistry with the populations to preach safety.  

For instance, Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko can be an asset in Kibera, Mathare and other informal settlements.

In Mombasa, his counterpart, Hassan Joho, has used his personal touch to change attitudes towards the disease.  

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