Kenyans will listen keenly as President Uhuru Kenyatta addresses the nation today after three months of containment measures to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Majority will demand a reopening of the economy. They want the President to ease the dawn-to-dusk curfew issued to stem infections. The viral disease has wreaked havoc across the globe, destroyed economies built over years and impoverished millions of people.
In three months, it is estimated that close to one million Kenyans have lost their source of income due to the pandemic and the containment measures. This includes some 300,000 Kenyans who were engaged in formal jobs, others in the informal sector and small businesses like mama mboga, shoe shiners, cart pushers, roast maize sellers and car washers. This huge loss of livelihood is catastrophic for an economy that was bleeding even before the virus from Wuhan, China hit our shores.
It is, therefore, understandable that Kenyans would desire an easing of the lockdown of virus hotspots and allow movement outside Nairobi, Mombasa and other areas. This is despite the increasing numbers of infections being announced by the Ministry of Health, which are now well over 2,000. Continued lockdown and night curfews will only mean more lost income generating activities and an impoverished citizenry.
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However, reopening measures that throw all caution to the wind could trigger an upsurge in infections. This could mean taking the disease to the elderly people in the villages who are more vulnerable to deaths. More infections would also mean an overwhelmed health system across the country.
And there lies President Kenyatta’s headache as he talks to the nation today. He must play a tough balancing act to save lives and at the same time, assure livelihoods. The President must protect Kenyans from the marauding invisible viral attack, while ensuring that they can fend for themselves.
That said, all Kenyans should help stem the spread of the virus by taking precautionary measures such as handwashing, social distancing, wearing a face mask, avoiding handshakes and crowding. This is because even if the Government lifts the curfew and lockdown today, the virus is still rife.