Only 8 per cent of Kenyans know someone who is Covid-19 positive

Tifa Research Director Maggie Ireri. Photo: Jenipher Wachie, Standard

92 per cent of Kenyans do not know anyone who has tested positive of coronavirus. In a report released by Trends and Insights for Africa (TIFA) on Thursday, it reveals that, half of the respondents feel that the worst is yet to come.

Since the first case of Covid was reported in Kenya, stigmatization has rampantly spread across the country towards people who have recovered from the disease and those released from the quarantine centers.

According to TIFA, the stigma is worse for families whose close relatives have died as a result of the virus.

Kenya has recorded a rising number of Gender-based violence cases amid coronavirus pandemic. Loss of jobs and staying at home as a measure to combat the spread of Covid-19, has resulted in heightened stress levels among people.

Despite the high number of Kenyans not knowing any relative, friend or neighbour who has contracted the virus, 65 per cent represents a very worried lot of Kenyans while 16 per cent are not bothered at all.

Females represent a big portion of the worried lot at 69 per cent, while male stand at 61 per cent. Interestingly, 18 per cent of the male gender are not worried at all if they contract the virus or not while 14 per cent of the female gender are not worried at all.

Residents living in the Central region of Kenya represent the bigger faction of Kenyans who are worried about getting infected with coronavirus at 72 per cent. Followed closely by Eastern at 69 percent, North Eastern 68 per cent, Nyanza 67 per cent, Rift valley and Western at 65 per cent each, Coast at 64 per cent and Nairobi tailing at 52 per cent.

41 out of 47 counties in Kenya have so far recorded positive cases of Covid-19. Yesterday Kenya recorded the highest tally ever of 307 positive cases, Nairobi having the highest tally with 154 cases.

However, 26 per cent of Kenyans living in Nairobi are not worried at all about getting infected with the virus, 17 per cent are only a little worried and 5 per cent are somewhat worried.

Despite the stigmatization that has come with the virus, at least 79 per cent of Kenyans would still be tested for the virus if it was offered for free within their neighborhood.

The elderly ranging from 45 years and above, represent the biggest number of those who would undergo the test at 86 per cent while those between ages 25 to 34 recorded 72 per cent likelihood.

Females are more likely to get tested at 79 per cent while males fall at 78 per cent.

“Those unlikely to test have concerns about the discomfort of the test, fear of being taken through mandatory quarantine and lack of trust in the testing kits. A significant proportion fear the stigmatization from family and neighbors should they be found to have Covid-19,” says TIFA.

Despite many Kenyans showing willingness to get tested, a big fear that the test may be painful, mandatory quarantine and stigma from neighbors are factors to be considered.

39 per cent of Kenyans who are unlikely to get tested believe that the test is painful while 20 per cent of those likely believe the same.

Other fears brought forward by those unlikely to get tested include; stigma from neighbor’s, tests are expensive, they don’t trust the testing kits, fear that people will stop communicating with them if fund positive and Covid is just but a propaganda.

69 per cent of Kenyans would isolate themselves if found positive of Covid-19, however, 65 per cent would not provide contact information to aide in contact tracing and 74 per cent would not inform friends and relatives if they tested positive.

Myths and misconceptions have been on the rise since the pandemic began. Different organizations and experts have come out to combat the spread of false information but still it remains a big threat in combating the spread of the virus.

According to data from TIFA, 13 per cent of Kenyans still believe that once you get Coronavirus you cannot recover forever while 28 per cent believe that once you test positive for Covid-19 you will die.

However, 72 per cent of Kenyans remain hopeful that most people who get Corona will recover without complications eventually.

Covid-19 cases as of yesterday evening had reached a whopping 6,673 cases. Speaking during the daily Covid-19 briefing, Health Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Rashid Aman said that fifty more people had been discharged from hospital bringing the total number of recoveries to 2,089.

Nonetheless, only 8 per cent of Kenyans know a friend, relative or neighbor who has tested positive for the virus.

62 per cent of Kenyans would also attend a funeral of a close friend who died of the virus while 59 per cent would allow interaction of their children with a recovered Covid-19 patient.

Last month, the government through the ministry of health initiated a 24 hour counselling service hotline number that Kenyans could call to seek help.

“Supporting mental health remains one of the government’s highest priorities. The Ministry of Health and partners are continuing to take action to help Kenyans whose mental health and well-being is being affected by the pandemic,” Health CAS Dr Aman said.

Sadly, 79 per cent of Kenyans are feeling irritable, depressed and hopeless. In addition, 78 per cent are feeling that they have been pushed to the edge leading to 86 per cent of Kenyans feeling an urge to use a substance to calm them down.

Data from TIFA shows that a majority of people experiencing such are within Nairobi followed by Rift Valley and North Eastern. Kenyans of 45 years and above are facing the most pressure followed by 35 year old to 44 year olds.

As a result 15 per cent of Kenyans have resulted to drinking more wine, beer or spirits in one sitting.

As the number of Covid cases keep on rising, Kenyans remain hopeful that the end is approaching.

Covid 19 Time Series