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Funeral traditions ‘to blame’ for Covid-19 surge

HEALTH & SCIENCEBy MERCY KAHENDA | Mon,Jul 12 2021 00:00:00 EAT
By MERCY KAHENDA | Mon,Jul 12 2021 00:00:00 EAT


Mourners in Busia County prepare to slaughter a bull in a funeral at Matayos.[Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Western Kenya, especially Busia County, has in the recent past witnessed the return of disco matanga, at a time when the country is facing a shortage of Covid-19 testing kits as hospitals grapple with increasing cases of infections.

A report by the Ministry of Health notes that as at June 23, the shortage of testing kits affected testing of suspected cases and contacts, and limited overall access to testing across several counties in the country.

Busia County is one of the 13 counties where restrictions of movement and curfews were imposed to curb the spread of Covid-19 after the fourth wave began surging in Western Kenya.

Covid 19 Time Series


Dr Rosemary Okeyo, the Lake Region Economic Bloc Health Pillar Lead, decried the shortage of testing kits as a major problem facing the regionsaying this had led to a problem with “turnaround”.

Matilu Mwau, a virologist and deputy director at Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri), said testing was for diagnosis and contact tracing “but sadly, the role of testing is poorly misunderstood and exaggerated by Kenyans who think testing will contain the spread of the virus. It is much more relevant for people to wear a mask, sanitise and stay away from others. Testing cannot stop the spread of the virus.”  

Prof Mwau reckons that the recent curfew restrictions imposed on 13 counties in the Lake Basin region will break the chain of transmission, which he attributed to the more infectious Delta variant.

He added: “Testing is to manage the pandemic, at public health, but it is unnecessary to mislead people that if we test everyone the pandemic will go away”. 

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