The 30-day restriction of movement period and curfew lapse tomorrow and Kenyans are waiting with bated breath to hear President Uhuru Kenyatta’s next course of action. The past three months have been tough.
Millions of livelihoods have been lost and a sizeable proportion of the population exposed to the elements. On the other hand, the number of Covid-19 cases is rising steadily, indicating that community spread of the virus is rife. What to do?
During his last address, the president gave a reasoned speech on why he was extending the restrictions, and directed counties to step up preparedness by increasing, among other things, the number of isolation beds to at least 300 per county.
The reality is that not all counties have achieved this and with the rising numbers, coupled with news that health facilities are bursting at the seams, the president finds himself at a crossroads. A beaten economy with millions despairing or a bulging number of infections from coronavirus is indeed a tough choice and whichever way President Kenyatta votes, there will be disappointments.
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Lost livelihoods mean, for instance, there will be a spike in evictions over unpaid rent as well as a rise in crime. Opening without a clear plan will also mean more infections and deaths. Inevitably, there will be casualties, but something must be done.
Decisions must be made and they must be tough. This is not the time to please anyone but to stand up for the country. Kenyans now need hope more than ever — that the days ahead will be better and that the government is in charge. Such hope cannot be inspired by news that Kenya is among countries whose citizens are not allowed in Europe, which begs the question: Were measures taken in the past three months futile?
Still, Kenyans do not need press briefings full of rhetoric. Three months were sufficient for preparing for the worst as far as the virus threat goes. Kenyans want a functional healthcare system and an economy in which they can thrive.
Let the patterns seen in other countries be a guide on which direction the country should take in the face of Covid-19. Let us accept the disruption and rebuild our nation through the crisis.