Omicron is here, let us exercise extra caution

Members of the public issued a mask upon arrival at Uhuru Garden for Jamuhuri Day celebrations. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe yesterday confirmed the presence of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 in Kenya. Three patients, two Kenyans and one South African were diagnosed with the variant and placed in quarantine. Mutahi said he will give a detailed report after two days in which various tests will be conducted.

The Omicron variant was first detected in South Africa last month but has since spread to various parts of the world. Indeed, it was only a matter of time before the variant that is reputed to spread very fast breached our borders. Barely two weeks ago, many Kenyans gave a sigh of relief when the Covid-19 prevalence rate in the country dropped below one per cent.

Within one week, however, the prevalence rate has shot up to 11.5 per cent, way above the five per cent that the World Health Organisation considers a safe margin. The ball is again in our court, and unfortunately, we have dropped it. There is need for greater caution among Kenyans to avoid a relapse into the lockdown stage to contain the spread of the fast mutating virus.

For us in Kenya, especially, the virus makes an unwelcome resurgence at a time the country is gearing up for the 2022 election. Political activities are likely to be heightened this period, but caution demands that we tone down campaigns.

Politicians currently traversing the country in search of political support should hold their horses. They need healthy Kenyans to vote for them when the time comes. In any case, there is time before the official campaign period is declared open by the electoral agency.

To avoid punitive containment measures, we must do the right thing by wearing face masks, sanitising, keeping social distance and heeding the government’s call to take Covid-19 vaccinations available in public hospitals countrywide. There are no two ways about it. Kenyans cannot ignore health protocols imposed by the government then turn around to condemn the same government when they get overwhelmed.

Covid 19 Time Series