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Covid-19: Expect more deaths, hospitalisations in fourth wave from July

HEALTH & SCIENCEBy MERCY KAHENDA | Thu,Jul 01 2021 18:56:40 EAT
By MERCY KAHENDA | Thu,Jul 01 2021 18:56:40 EAT

 Coronavirus (Covid-19) Vaccine. [Courtesy]

The fourth wave of the coronavirus will be experienced mid this month mostly in Nairobi and the Coastal region, according to Kenyan scientists.

The surge in cases is attributed to the more transmissible Delta variant first confirmed in the country this April. 

It is 60 per cent more dominant than the Alpha variant, according to researchers from Kemri Wellcome Trust who noted that deaths and hospitalisation linked to the Delta variant are expected to be higher by end of this year.

The fourth wave is already causing a surge of cases in Nyanza and Western counties, which led to restriction of movement and a 7 pm to 4 am curfew in 13 counties among them; Busia, Vihiga, Kisii, Nyamira, Kakamega, Trans Nzoia, Bungoma, Kericho, Bomet, Siaya, Kisumu, Homa Bay and Migori.

Covid 19 Time Series


“We estimate an additional 4,300 hospitalisations and 580 deaths for a Delta variant,” reads part of the research report titled, Modelling forecasts of a fourth wave of COVID-19 in Kenya: When, Where and How big?

The report also warned that the healthcare system will be overstretched in Nyanza and Western where Covid-19 patients are currently grappling with an acute shortage of medical oxygen.

Whereas Kenya has other variants including Alpha and South Africa, genomic data from across the country indicates that the Delta variant is the one currently causing havoc and “Nairobi and Coast counties look set for an imminent start to a fourth wave” which is already being experienced in the lake region where the Delta variant has been dominant, says the report which predicts an increase in countrywide transmissible of 60 per cent during the fourth wave in July.

The report also notes that “the timing of the next wave is imminent for the country as a whole or, in the case of the Lakeside Region is currently occurring. The health services in the Lakeside Region counties are in jeopardy of being stretched beyond capacity.”

The first wave of the virus reported in August 2020 witnessed an average of 14 deaths a day, moving to 19 a day during the second wave three months later. The daily deaths moved to 21-a-day during the third wave which lasted about three months from February to April.

In the study, scientists used mathematical models to provide an explanation for predicting the past three waves and which they also used to forecast the impact of Delta variant in relation to the fourth wave-which was triggered by the Delta variant replacing the Alpha variant around April or May this year and the reason “genomic data from across the country now indicates an increasing proportion of cases positive for the Delta variant…and we are beginning to see the replacement of the Alpha variant that was predominant in the third wave,” the report notes.

But Prof Matilu Mwau, a virologist, and deputy director, Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) told the Standard that adherence to public health containment measures is key in stopping deaths and hospitalisation, but regrettably majority of Kenyans want to be policed around and this affects the fight against the virus.

“It is much more relevant for people to wear a mask, sanitize and stay away from others. This is the only way to prevent severity of the virus,” said the researcher adding that increased vaccination among Kenyans will help create herd immunity.

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