LOWERED GUARD

Why Kiambu lockdown inclusion was expected

It is a major transit point and many had stopped following protocols

In Summary

• Kiambu was doing well in terms of health infrastructure, personnel and equipment

• However, laxity was setting in and infections rising, calling for drastic action to tame it

Kiambu Governor James Nyoro lays a wreath at the grave of the Muguga MCA, who died of Covid-19
Kiambu Governor James Nyoro lays a wreath at the grave of the Muguga MCA, who died of Covid-19
Image: NJONJO KIHURIA

Every day, many people pass through Kiambu to get to and from the Coast, the north of the country, west and even east. It’s therefore obvious that the people of the county interact with people from all over the country.

Since one cannot tell who is infected and who is not, this interaction, combined with the county’s proximity to Nairobi, where about 60 per cent of the infections are being recorded from, disposes the county to increased infections of Covid-19.

Additionally, many residents had let their guard down and thrown the Covid protocols out of the window. Many, especially in the villages, had declared that Covid was no more. Most had stopped wearing masks and those who did wore them around their necks. Washing of hands had almost completely been ignored and sanitising was something ‘those fellows’ in the high-end Nairobi estates did.

Matatus were carrying beyond the pre-Covid capacity, and while passengers put on their masks to avoid arrest in the city, when travelling back to their villages in Kikuyu or Githunguri, commuters hanged their masks on one ear. Never mind that the matatu is capacity full and Kenyan-style, all the windows are closed.

Markets that had initially been closed by the county government and fumigated had been opened with the traders and their customers promising to follow all the Covid protocols. But months later, they had reverted to business as usual. Vendors and a sizeable number of commodity buyers had dropped their masks and the hand washing ‘mitungis’ had long run dry. Soap was no longer affordable.

Those conscious of the rise of Covid cases and the consequences thereof were, therefore, ready for any action that would control the rise in the cases. People were aware that these would affect them and their livelihoods, but they knew that something had to be done and urgently so. Although some were loudly demanding that the government take firm action, they did not expect the full closure of bars, the partial closing of restaurants and the cessation of movement. There is the fear of job losses, especially for those working in the hospitality industry.

Though the county was doing well in terms of health infrastructure, personnel and equipment for preventing and combating the coronavirus, Kiambu was as declared a ‘disease-infected zone’, and there was need for drastic action that would have helped in bringing the numbers down and waking up the society from laxity and ignorance.

Even before Covid, Kiambu county and especially Kiambu Level 5 Hospital, was receiving many patients from Nairobi and beyond. When it made Tigoni Hospital an exclusive Covid-19 centre, it started receiving patients from across the country, some from as far as western Kenya. While it may continue getting patients from Nairobi and other counties from the ‘diseased zone’, the catchment area may just have narrowed and the number of patients could reduce.