Just days to a possible re-opening of the economy, Kenya has recorded the highest daily tally of Covid-19 cases so far after 307 people tested positive.
Such a figure now casts doubts on the planned re-opening of the economy, an issue ministry officials seemed to pour cold water on yesterday as they released the figures.
The disturbing news is that the 307 cases are not from the highest number of samples tested. They were from a sample size of 3,500. When the government tested 6,024 samples, the highest so far, on June 18, there were 213 positive cases.
These figures confirm the ministry’s chorus that the disease is now firmly within the community.
It is against this background that Health ministry Chief Administrative Secretary Rashid Aman sought to use yesterday’s update to have Kenyans understand the depth of the disease in the country amidst calls to re-open the economy.
“This discussion is unavoidable. The containment measures have resulted to discomfort and pain to our people,” he said. Aman said it is for this reason President Uhuru Kenyatta in his June 6 address insisted on getting the country ready with at least 300 isolation beds per county.
“In the past one week, we have seen several developed countries namely the US, Australia, South Korea and Germany experiencing spikes in Covid-19 infections after opening up their economies and hurriedly closing again,” he said.
Aman said a balance must be reached between saving lives and saving livelihoods. “It is better to be safe than sorry,” he said.
The model that informed extension of curfew and restriction of movement for another 30 days by President Kenyatta on June 6, had that 450,000 people will be infected and 45,000 people will die if restriction measures are lifted by 60 per cent.
It however appeared to be a far-fetched postulation. “It is better to work with models that over-exaggerate so we be over-prepared than be under-prepared,” Aman said.
So far, the virus is in 41 of the 47 counties and Aman stated that it is just a matter of time before the all the 47 counties have positive cases.
Of the 307 cases reported yesterday, Nairobi has the highest tally with 154 followed by Mombasa (38), Kiambu (20); Narok (20), Kajiado (14), Busia (10), Kericho (4), Makueni and Nakuru has five each and Kilifi, Kisumu, Kitui and Uasin Gishu one each.
There was one more death, raising the tally to 149 as number of recoveries rose to 2,089 after 50 more patients tested negative. Of the recoveries, among them are 120 patients who were under home-based care programme.
Health Director General Patrick Amoth said the model that a surge will be witnessed as we approach August and September is what the ministry is working with. “But until we reach that peak, nobody can tell for sure, because sometimes nature does not obey science," Amoth said.