70% of Kenyans unaware corona spreads beyond sneeze, cough

Study says least 12 per cent don't know any of the symptoms; 18 per cent yet to implement preventive measures.

In Summary

• Coughing and fever are the two main symptoms of Covid-19 that Kenyans are most aware of.

• TIFA warns that gaps in knowledge and behavioural traits present the risk of a surge in the numbers of those infected by the disease.

Doctors at the Mbagathi Hospital.
Doctors at the Mbagathi Hospital.
Image: FILE

The majority of Kenyans are ill-informed about the other risk areas and spots where they can be infected with the coronavirus.

A survey by pollster TIFA says only 32 per cent of Kenyans understand the disease can be spread beyond contact with coughing and sneezing patients.

The study conducted through phone interviews further revealed that 18 per cent of Kenyans are yet to implement the preventive measures spelt out by the state.


Further to this, a significant proportion of the populace – about 12 per cent, are not aware of the symptoms.

“There is low knowledge of the fact that contaminated surfaces spread the virus,” TIFA says in the study conducted from March 15 – 21 and released Wednesday.

The researchers warn that this could imply that Kenyans have not yet understood that they can get the disease by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it.

Most people are also unaware that the virus can be transmitted by touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.

“It is recommended that public communication amplifies the link between contaminated services and the spread of the disease.”

Coughing and fever are the two main symptoms of Covid-19 that Kenyans are most aware of at 77% and 70% mentions respectively.

“There is low awareness of symptoms such as headaches (28 per cent) and difficulty in breathing (24 per cent).”


TIFA also observed that of the five recommended preventive measures – handwashing, sneezing hygienically, social distance, staying home, and avoiding handshakes — most Kenyans have adopted only one to two of them.

Above 70 per cent have taken up handwashing but it is emerging there is low adoption of social distancing – deemed the main mode of slowing down the spread of coronavirus.

The TIFA study reveals there are gaps in knowledge and behavioural traits that “present the risk of a surge in the numbers of those infected by the disease.”

The research firm says there is an urgent need to increase knowledge and motivate Kenyans to adopt the recommended prevention practices.

“There is a need for more interventions at the grassroots level. This will require the joint effort of the national government, county governments, the private sector, and NGOs and donors,” the agency said.

The study also revealed that there is little awareness of the measures taken by the national emergency response team chaired by Health CS Mutahi Kagwe.

Most people are only aware of public sensitisation in the media or using mobile phone platforms.

They also know of the hot-line number the public can use for emergencies and the ban on public gatherings.

“There is limited awareness other measures taken such as health messages on WhatsApp; free handwashing in public places, isolation, screening, and recommended self-quarantine,” the TIFA report reads.

In spite of the many messages aired in the media, 16 per cent of Kenyan adults do not know any of the five symptoms of Covid-19.

The research had a sample size of 1,000 respondents above 18 years, spread across the country with a margin of error of plus or minus three per cent.

(edited by o. owino)