The government is at crossroads on how to reopen the economy, as it reported the highest number of Covid-19 cases found within 24 hours.
A total 123 persons tested positive for the disease from a sample of 3,077, a triple digit figure compared to what has been the norm, and the highest since the pandemic hit the country on March 12, 2020.
It is, however, key to note that the sample tested is the second largest the country has done under 24 hours.
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On May 21, the Ministry of Health reported that it tested 3,102 samples, from which 80 persons were found to be positive. This was the second largest number of positive cases found within 24 hours.
This development now seems to put the government in a catch-22 situation on if or how exactly the economy should be reopened.
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe who issued the update on the disease yesterday, while reiterating President Uhuru Kenyatta’s call that lockdown cannot stay on forever, said a lot of options will be laid on the table on how such restrictions will be lifted.
Mr Kagwe said it would not make sense to lift restrictions on a particular area that with many cases, or also fail to lift restrictions where the numbers had reduced.
“A lot will depend on these variables,” he said. “We are not committing ourselves to anything specific. We have to create a balance between activities that will keep people alive and those that will make them perish.”
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Kagwe said if the situation gets worse, then Kenyans will have themselves to blame. He said police cannot keep on checking for those who are not adhering to the measures stipulated.
He added that the disease has been in the country for three months now and Kenyans should be well versed on the right thing to do.
“If this situation gets worse, we have only two options like other countries: We cooperate and survive or ignore the directives and suffer. Let us remember that if people die from this disease, they are killed by other people,” he said.
The CS insisted the push for self-discipline in the wake of the plan to reopen was not a sign that the government was overwhelmed.
“If we lose this fight, it will not be the government which made it happen, but you. This is the type of war that all the government can do is appeal to people. If you do not adhere, it is you that will suffer,” he said.
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“There are countries that do not have quarantine facilities, just treatment centres. But this is because when people are told to quarantine themselves, they obey,” he added.
While 123 might be a figure large enough to shock, Kagwe said it should not be interpreted as so, as the infections are still relatively low, the same as the number of deaths vis a vis those infected.
Only seven patients are in critical condition - four on ventilatory support while the other three are on oxygen supplement.
So far 55 people have died from the disease. Three of the deaths were reported yesterday. Recoveries stand at 408, with three people having been released yesterday.
From this, the case fatality ratio is 3.7 per cent, lower than the global average of seven per cent. The infection rate is 2.1 per cent when compared to total samples tested, which is 67,341.
When the highest sample of 3,102 was tested and 80 people tested positive, the rate of infection on this particular sample stood at 2.57 per cent.
And with the highest number of infections within 24 hours, which is yesterday’s 123 against 3,077 samples, the infection rate against sample tested stands at 3.9 per cent.
Kiambu recorded four
Majority of the 123 cases, said the CS, were from Nairobi (85), followed by Mombasa at 24, and Kiambu with four. Kisumu recorded its first.
“The two cases from Kisumu are from quarantine facilities who travelled from Nairobi to attend a funeral,” said the CS.
Of the 85 cases in Nairobi, Mathare leads with 33, followed by Kibra (14), and Embakasi West (12).
Kagwe noted that the high numbers in areas like Mathare and Kibra of late had been linked to the increase in community contact, a disregard to the social distancing measure.
“Some of these high infections come from places where people use public transport system a lot, some of which we have seen disregarding the measures on wearing of masks and social distancing,” said Kagwe.
The cases in Mombasa are spread in Mvita (nine), Changamwe (four), Kiasauni (four), Jomvu (four), Likoni (three), and Nyali (one).