Covid-19: Take care of yourself, others
By Judy Sirma | March 30th 2021
The coronavirus pandemic is now testing humankind in ways no microbe has for a century. It has forced human beings to think in novel ways on how to survive.
Early this month, the Ministry of Health reported a positivity rate of as high as 22 per cent.
The increase in positivity rate has upended the spirits of millions of Kenyans, many of whom had resumed their business and daily routines.
During these testing times, however, caution is your best defence. Caution is indeed, the best arsenal in the fight against this pandemic. It may not be enough, but it can keep you and those around you considerably safe.
The latest wave of infections is teaching us that we need an inclusive undertaking of ‘responsibilisation.’ Responsibilisation, in governmentality literature, refers to the process of rendering subjects individually responsible for a task which previously would have been the duty of another—usually a state agency—or would not have been recognised as a responsibility at all.
We can’t underestimate the power of individual responsibility in drastically reducing the spread of Covid-19. However, we need everyone on board for it to work effectively.
Human behaviour is at the heart of many public policy challenges, including the fight against Covid-19. As part of infection control measures for Covid-19, individuals have been encouraged to adopt preventive measures such as hand washing, wearing masks, sanitising, social distancing and adopting behavioural changes such as avoiding crowds.
The decisions the government has made are important to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Indeed, imposition of curfew, banning large gatherings such as political rallies, making sure that good diagnostic facilities, public health information and vaccines are widely available to have greatly helped curb the infections.
However, how individuals respond to government advice on preventing the spread of Covid-19 is extremely important.
While evidence exists that these measures reduce disease transmission, people’s willingness to follow the measures is tenuous. This pandemic is reminding us that our health is most important, and our new social norms should reflect that.
With Covid-19, some of the beliefs and values we have held so dear over the years are no longer tenable. The environment has changed; a Covid-19-soaked environment requires new norms of behaviour and values if we are to survive.
Call it common sense or ‘self-leadership,’ but as citizens, we all have a personal and social responsibility to heed the government's health advice and act responsibly. Personal responsibility is key in ensuring our communities remain vigilant and minimise exposure.
We should all bear the responsibility to play a unique part in this collective battle against the virus. Wear a mask, keep your distance from others, wash your hands and avoid large gatherings.
Your first responsibility is to yourself and to those who live with you. Be attentive to any signs of infection in you or anyone around you. If you feel sick, limit your walkabouts to your home.
That way, you won’t put anyone else at risk. If you don’t live alone, isolate yourself at home and get tested.
Letting our guard down can be dangerous, but doing the basics around Covid-19 can be a life-saving service. Do these things so that our children can go back to school, our loved ones can be safe, and our economy can continue to prosper.
Above all, maintaining good hygiene is an important barrier to many infectious diseases. We must work together to stay healthy. To stay healthy and ensure a healthy lifestyle, to ensure food security and nutrition, to take care of our environment.
If we control this disease we can go out and live our lives, perhaps differently. So let us wear our face masks properly, follow physical distancing and hand hygiene and take the vaccine against Covid-19 when our time comes.
These are the key tools to contain the number of cases and mortality rate from Covid-19.
I hope everyone will take personal responsibility and do their utmost to protect the health of others. When the pandemic is over, you should be able to look back and be proud of the role you played in battling it.
Let us lead by example and actively encourage those around us to look out for each other.
-Ms Sirima is public communications officer, Pharmacy and Poisons Board
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