GET IT RIGHT

Covid-19: What Kenyans are doing wrong

If you had bought 20 sanitisers share with your neighbours

In Summary

•Kenya confirmed her first positive case on Friday, wo more on Sunday, and the fourth one on Tuesday

•Clinicians have cautioned the public against buying and using face masks without advice from a health worker

Kenya Union of Clinical Officers address the press on COVID-19 in Nairobi on March 17, 2020
Kenya Union of Clinical Officers address the press on COVID-19 in Nairobi on March 17, 2020
Image: MAGDALINE SAYA

The ideal goal of fighting a pandemic in any given situation is to completely halt the spread.

In the case of coronavirus, slowing the spread is seen as critical as it reduces the number of cases that are active at any given time.

This, in turn, gives hospitals, schools, doctors and scientists time to prepare and respond without becoming overwhelmed.

Kenya confirmed her first positive case on Friday, two more on Sunday and another one yesterday.

Twenty -three people quarantined at Mbagathi Hospital have been cleared to go home and self-isolate after they tested negative for Covid-19.

In an effort to protect the public's health and slow the rate of transmission of the virus in the country, a raft of measures has been put in place by the government.

Professionals from the health sector have called for concerted efforts in slowing down the spread but faulted the way Kenyans are handling the situation.

Clinicians, for instance, have cautioned the public against the purchase and use of face masks without advice from a health worker.

“The public must realise that stockpiling sanitisers and masks at home while denying their neighbours of the same defeats the purpose as prevention is more communal as much as it is personal,” Kenya Union of Clinical Officers secretary general George Gibore said yesterday.

“If you had bought 20 sanitisers, share with your neighbours because even if you sanitise and your neighbours don’t and they get infected, you will not be spared,”Gibore noted.

Clinicians also termed as unreasonable to sanistise your hands before boarding a matatu, only to support yourself on the door rails as you enter.

In addition, they want the government to provide gloves or tissue to be used by the public to open public toilets' doors, saying doing so with bare hands is a big risk.

“We still have hawkers who are unprotected yet are selling sweets to the public. Some even don’t believe that the virus exists. It is high time the public adheres to the directives given by the Health ministry with the seriousness they deserve,” Gibore added.

Also of concern is the fact that the majority of public places do not adhere to simple handwashing rules. Besides, some health facilities do not even have access to running water in their consultation rooms.

The public has also been advised against supporting themselves on staircase rails as they can be contaminated.

“The public must appreciate that they have the greatest role to play in slowing the spread of the virus by observing cough etiquette, avoiding crowding, and being ambassadors of ensuring everyone abides by the rules,” KUCO chairman Peterson Wachira said.

Wachira said this is not the time for blame game, adding that it is time everyone came together in the fight against the virus.

He, however, noted that fear, panic, stigma and spreading of fake news is the greatest enemy of the country, and called for public education so that they get equipped with the truth.

“The biggest problem with Covid-19 is not that it will kill because we have a lot of people surviving, but because its infection speed is very high,” Wachira noted.

He said that with the high rate of infection, so many people will get sick and without enough resources to handle the large numbers, pressure on the health system will crop in.

“We have to learn from Italy. A country that we are supposed to emulate because of their health systems is slowing going down because of Covid-19.”

The clinicians want training and employment of more health workers to ease the shortage in readiness for any eventuality.

They also want the government to provide accommodation facilities for health workers working in isolation centres for the period of the outbreak to avoid spread to their families in case they are infected.

It is argued that most hospitals can function with a 10 per cent reduction in staff, but not with half the population out at once.