It is now clear that Kenya has come under a heavy spell of the second wave of Covid-19. The month of October accounted for some of the highest daily counts in infections since the first case was reported in the country.
Death from the virus has equally been in upswing. The health facilities have come under heavy strain with bed capacity dwindling by the day. With Kenya’s caseload stretching over 58,000 and 1,051 deaths, county governments collectively threw in the gauntlet and called for fresh restrictions to stymie the virus spread.
A commitment to observe laid down social distancing and personal hygiene protocols by Kenyans saw the country cut down the chains of transmission – hence paving the way for easing of the restrictions. Schools were reopened. Worship congregations were allowed and curfews relaxed. All these were premised on the hope that Kenyans would continue to observe obtaining measures aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.
Looking back, it appears that a majority of Kenyans equated incremental reopening of the country to the death of the virus. Yet, scientists world over, are now unanimous that even with a vaccine in the nearest health facility, Covid-19 will not go away.
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Kenyans are not alone in this unfortunate path of Covid-19 upsurge. Many countries across Europe, Africa and the Americas are under the grip of a second or third wave. Sweeping restrictions including weeks-long lockdowns, and curfews are being pronounced by governments of the affected countries.
Compared to the Asian countries where coronavirus has substantially been brought under control, a key factor that may hamper Covid-19 response in Kenya happens to be personal behaviour. Kenyans stopped wearing masks. The few who do, often meet incredulous gazes and suspicious treatment as if they are vectors of the disease.
We have witnessed a string of political gatherings in which participants neither wear masks nor keep the recommended social distancing requirements. These events are potential virus hotspots and may have greatly contributed to the rising caseload.
In the villages, it is not uncommon to hear people wonder whether Covid-19 exist. Failure to shake hands is scorned. Some people even force their palms into others’ with the liner that “kama ni Corona itatuuwa, bado itatuuwa tu, nisalimie” (If it is Covid-19 that will kill us, it will even if you don’t shake my hands).
The national resources dedicated to the pandemic response are clearly limited. As Kenyans, we can play a part in curbing the transmissions. Yes, we all must hustle to make ends meet. Yes, we all feel deeply inclined to show family love and care for friends. Yet it is also in these actions that we may end up contracting or passing on the virus to the next person.
We have to individually re-evaluate our roles in the surging numbers, even before we point fingers at the government. We must collectively agree to observe the preventive measures that seem trivial yet make all the difference in the fight against Covid-19. If it is a hand, wash it. Got a mask? wear it. And if you truly care about your family and the next person, show care through social distancing.
As the citizens do their part, the government must play the facilitative role. Key among these include early detection through targeted testing and isolation; strict enforcement of the prevailing guidelines as well as requisite education and leading by example. If we all did our best, we will have a country and loved ones to celebrate in the days to come.
-Mr Adhere comments on topical issues.