Covid-19 cases to shoot up in March

By Mercy Kahenda | January 23rd 2021 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300
An ongoing Chemistry lesson under a tree at Shimo la Tewa High School in Mombasa County. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

Covid-19 infections and deaths are likely to peak in mid-March due to the reopening of schools, researchers have warned.

Kemri-Wellcome Trust report dubbed projections of Covid-19 cases and deaths following schools re-opening in January this year, projects a transmission rate of 25 per cent.

The report attributes the rise in infections to laxity in observing Covid-19 health guidelines and massive travels as learners reported back to school countrywide.

“We consider the most plausible effect of schools re-opening on January 4, to be that the transmission rate in Kenya will increase the time-varying reproductive number (Rt) by +25 per cent, and, increase mixing between social clusters that were not in contact whilst schools were closed,” reads the report.

Predictions

It is estimated that more than 25 per cent increase of infections is conditional, if all other restriction measures remain in place.

“It is possible that school openings will further increase R(t) and population mixing, and so we have examined predictions for this impact,” adds the report.

Before the reopening of schools on January 4, the Ministry of Health and Education set in place several measures to guarantee safety of learners and teachers.

Among the measures include provision of water points for hand washing, wearing of masks by learners and keeping social distance.

In addition, researchers project that at least 137,000 new cases and 116 deaths will be reported in the country by June this year.

The report also projects that there will be 1.1 million infections, by then.

But, most infections according to the research will remain undetected due to limited Covid-19 tests.

Further, researchers have noted that the worst scenario for the spread of the virus will be an increase by 50 per cent.

This will reflect what was reported in November, during the second wave of infections.

The peak back then, according to the report was attributed to relaxation in Covid-19 restriction measures, increased movement and virus widespread in rural communities.

“A worst-case scenario would be an increase in R(t) by 50 per cent and resulting in epidemic of similar magnitude to the second outbreak in the country. We think this is unlikely,” adds the report.

The model used by scientists during the research findings is consistent with the second peak without the need to include waning immunity or new variants of SARS-CoV-2.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health has asked Kenyans not to drop their guard in observing public health set measures aimed at preventing spread of Covid-19.

Acting Health Director-General Dr Patrick Amoth [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

The advice comes after the country recorded a drop in positivity rate to below 5 per cent, in the last two weeks.

Dr Patrick Amoth, Health Ministry’s acting director-general said a drop in the cases is a good sign but calls for more caution.

“We are doing well but we must not drop our guard,” Dr Amoth said.


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