There was much anticipation among Kenyans yesterday as President Uhuru Kenyatta addressed the nation on the Covid-19 situation. After 60 days of a night curfew, many expected the president to lift the containment measure to help the economy recover and a semblance of normalcy. Since coronavirus hit Kenya in March 2020, lives and livelihoods have been devastated. Nearly 2,000 lives have been lost to the virus and more than 110,000 infected.
The toll on health facilities and health workers has been huge with dozens of medics also falling to the disease. And with the emergence of a third wave of the pandemic a few days ago, the president and the team of health experts had no option but to extend the curfew for a further 60 days. Political gatherings were also banned and social events restricted to not more than 100 people.
The Covid-19 variants seen in other countries are said to be more lethal and Kenyans should not lower their guard yet. Social distancing, regular handwashing and avoiding huge crowds should continue. Pub owners had complained of the 10pm curfew start time and wanted the president to lift that regulation, saying their operations had been dented, financially. Ordinary Kenyans also wanted to resume their normal partying after a year of strict rules. However, the disease is still spreading and causing untold suffering on individuals, their families and friends. Indeed, politicians have turned out positive with Covid-19 after getting exposed, which calls for cessation of rallies. They have been hiding under meet-the-people tours and roadside rallies, which are Covid-19 super spreader events.
But there is a glimmer of hope after the country received over one million Covid-19 vaccines, which are already being administered. Healthcare workers are already being vaccinated and teachers and other frontline workers will follow suit. Health stakeholders and the government must now convince Kenyans that getting vaccinated will be a huge step in the right direction and effective way of fighting the pandemic.
That said, governors and their administrations, most of whom had lowered their guard and stopped putting in place infrastructure to handle Covid-19 cases, must up their game. This will help fight a surge of cases, related to the third wave. County health facilities must be well equipped and residents urged to observe the Ministry of Health protocols. It should not be business as usual, even as Kenyans seek to recover lost time, businesses and jobs. ?