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Make merry, but coronavirus will not be on holiday

By Michael Kiptoo | December 13th 2020

As Kenyans gear up for the festive season, which is already around the corner, we must remind ourselves that Covid-19 is spread through contact with an infected person.

Kenya is currently in a second wave, which can be made worse through community spread.

It is not in doubt that during the festive month of December, majority of Kenyans lower their guards, a behaviour that could catalyse the spread of coronavirus. We need to be reminded that the new surge in numbers can only be arrested by simple public health measures of wearing facemasks correctly while in public spaces, applying correct hand hygiene at all times, and adhering to the physical and social distancing guidelines and protocols put in place to safeguard our individual and collective health and safety.

As we travel to the upcountry to conduct our yearly rituals of celebrating the close of the year, we must remember that our rural population is still vulnerable; this is where the elderly, whose immunity may be compromised, live.
When the disease first struck, it was easily contained in Nairobi and Mombasa, but it has now defied the restriction, and is currently fast spreading in the rural areas in what is known as
community spread.

Kakamega, Kisumu, Uasin Gishu, Nakuru, Bungoma and Turkana counties have joined Nairobi and Mombasa in recording high numbers of Covid-19. May we not contribute in worsening the situation through behaviours we can otherwise avoid.

And as we caution ourselves against Covid-19 spread during the festive season, this period provides yet another fertile ground for one of our worst public health enemies: teenage pregnancy.

Recent media reports show a steep rise in numbers
of teenage pregnancies during the lockdown, which could further rise during the festive season.

Pregnancy and childbirth complications are the leading cause of death among girls aged 15–19 globally, according to the World Health Organisation.

Studies on maternal deaths show that nine percent of women who die in hospital are teenagers. Of the pregnant teenagers who survive childbirth, nearly 98 per cent drop out of school.

That said, world scientists on Covid-19 are working around the clock for a vaccine to help contain the spread of the epidemic and facilitate care for those affected. But we do not know when the vaccine will be available in our country. Still, we are not out of the woods yet. With no drug in sight, we have to rely on following the laid down protocols by the government. All of us have a duty to protect our health care workers, who are still few and far between. The government spends colossal amounts of resources and time to train one health professional.

These should be our treasures. It is distressing to hear that some of them have died in the line of duty.

Unfortunately, some have died because of our reckless behaviours, which deliberately and needlessly expose them to the virus.

It is imperative that all Kenyans find more value to observe the laid down protocols during this festive season to protect our health care workers.

During this festive season, just stay at home and eat well, and feed your family well. There is sufficient evidence that good nutrition improves immunity against all diseases, Covid-19
included. If you have some basic knowledge of nutrition, take this time to educate someone on the extremely important value of using nutrition to control the effect of Covid-19 than go out and spread or catch the deadly disease.

Remember unhealthy diets worsen pre-existing conditions, further lowering a patient’s immunity level. Your reduction of alcohol, continuous hydration of the body, consumption of fibre, and limiting salt, fat and sugar intake will also be critical in improving your body immunity.
Lastly, remember that treating a Covid-19 patient is expensive by all standards.

According to Kemri, Covid-19 case management costs in hospitals range between Sh21,359 a day for asymptomatic patients, Sh21,361 a day for patients with mild symptoms, Sh24,705 for patients with severe disease and Sh51,684 for critical patients in ICU.

When these costs are passed to patients, they result in significant catastrophes and impoverishment, which we can conveniently avoid.

-The writer is CEO Kenya Medical Training College (KMTC)

Covid 19 Time Series


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