A possible lockdown is one of the options that awaits Kenyans on Wednesday as President Uhuru Kenyatta chairs a meeting to deliberate the country’s soaring Covid-19 situation.
Yesterday, a new high of cases was reported after 1,395 people tested positive from a sample of 7,635. It is the fourth time the country is recording new cases above 1,000 –all in October – since the pandemic was first reported in March.
The total number of confirmed cases now stand at 55,192. Last month alone, the country has reported 16,663 cases, which is 30 per cent of all the confirmed cases.
Yesterday also reported 15 more deaths, pushing the number of fatalities to 996. Last month, 285 people died from the virus, representing 28 per cent of the total fatalities.
Going by what has been the case in other nations which have reverted to lockdown measures, Kenya’s state seems to mirror the same situation. Germany is among the latest countries to impose lockdown measures just a day after recording the highest number of cases in a day – over 14,000 – Wednesday.
Kenya recorded the highest number of cases on Thursday with 1,068.
The lockdown in Germany, comes about four months after the nation started gradual reopening of the economy in May which saw shops, schools, concerts and restaurants operate.
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The partial lockdown imposed by Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday will last for a month beginning November 2.
It will have restaurants and bars close business, large events will be cancelled, restrictions on public recreational centres like swimming pools and no crowds in sports events. As reported by DW news, the decision follows an increase in severe cases and that only 25 per cent of intensive care unit beds are available.
We are in a very serious situation,” said Merkel. “We must act, and now, to avoid an acute national health emergency.”
Germany recorded 486,972 confirmed corona cases by Thursday with 10,281 deaths.
On September 28, President Kenyatta allowed reopening of bars and extended the operating hours of hotels to 10pm. The dusk to dawn curfew was also revised from 9pm-4am to 11pm to 4am.
What did not change are the wearing of masks, and carrying capacity of public service vehicles.
The president, in his address on September 28, said experts had advised on phased re-opening of the economy.
But how has relaxation of containment measures affected cases?
A month after relaxation of curfew hours, opening of bars and hotel operations, the country reported 13,736 more cases by October 28. Deaths within this period are 259.
On September 28, about two months after the lockdown in three counties of Nairobi, Mombasa and Mandera was lifted on July 7, the country recorded 28,101 more cases and 536 more deaths.
This means 56 per cent of the total deaths the country had reported by October 28 were recorded in the two months after the lockdown orders in the three counties was lifted. Additionally, 54 per cent of the total confirmed cases were reported within the same period – July 7 and September 28.
To what extent the relaxing of these measures have contributed to the surge in numbers will be the question that the Wednesday meeting will possibly deliberate on.
If the meeting could also trace possible source of the numbers, it could also assist in knowing exactly where to impose new restrictions.
However, such may not be possible as seen in the Germany scenario where the country cannot deduce the source of infection for 75 per cent of the cases.
And with the political temperatures flaring up due to the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), schools being back in session, international flights resuming on August 1, clubs and bars operating, events like wedding and funerals back in session with up to 200 people, and reopening of churches; it will be challenging as well, to tell where people are getting infected more.
Uhuru in a statement on Wednesday by State House Spokesperson indicated that it is not his wish to lock down the country.
“By doing so (washing hands, social distancing and correct wearing of masks), Kenyans will ensure our nation doesn’t lose the hard-fought for ground secured in the fight against Covid-19, and that our nation shall not be compelled to roll back the easing of the restrictions that Kenyans enjoy today,” read the statement.
These simple measures however seem not enough which raises the question: is the country ready for a second peak of the virus? As of Wednesday, Kenya had 1,060 patients in various hospitals where 81 were on critical care: 36 in intensive care unit and 23 in the high dependency unit.
Kenya has just 319 ICU beds according to the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Council. By Wednesday 60 of the beds were occupied. France, which also announced a lockdown on Wednesday estimates up to 9,000 intensive care cases by mid-November.