SPIKE IN INFECTIONS

We can’t afford a second Covid wave

Lockdown, restrictions will have disastrous consequences on our enfeebled economy.

In Summary
  • Contact tracing is at best moribund.
  • We should be also concerned that we have not built enough healthcare capacity to deal with a second and geographically distributed coronavirus infection wave.
Health CS Mutahi Kagwe during the daily Covid-19 briefing at Afya House on May 21, 2020.
Health CS Mutahi Kagwe during the daily Covid-19 briefing at Afya House on May 21, 2020.
Image: MERCY MUMO

The world reached a grim milestone this week, with daily Covid-19 cases hitting 400,000, double the number of daily positive case in early July. More than 40 million people have now been infected and more than 1.1 million are dead.

France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom are all experiencing a second, and more virulent, wave of new Covid-19 infections. The United States of America, which accounts for 20 percent of Covid-19 mortalities, is experiencing a third wave since infections first peaked in April.

 

The surge of Covid-19 cases in Europe is largely associated with easing of restrictions; reopening bars, restaurants, sports arenas and schools. Countries across Europe have tightened restrictions.

In London for example, people from different households are banned from meeting outdoors. Teachers’ unions are calling for schools to close after data revealed that young adults have the highest Covid-19 infection rates in England.

 

The Italian government has imposed new restrictions on gatherings, restaurants, and sports activities. Paris and several French cities are now under night-time curfew that will last at least a month. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is imposing tighter restrictions, urging citizens to stay at home whenever possible.

Kenya is experiencing the beginning of a second Covid-19 wave after lockdown measures were relaxed on  September 28, 2020.  Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe warned at the weekend of a potential crisis as Covid-19 cases surged for four straight days.

Positivity rates have increased from four to 12 percent since President Kenyatta eased restrictions on bars and restaurants. Moreover, hospital admissions for Covid-19 complications have doubled.

Kagwe’s warning must be taken seriously. Especially because schools are partially reopened, political gatherings are getting bigger and more frequent, bars and restaurants are back – and its almost business as usual – and offices are nearly back at full capacity. And yes, let’s face it, people just don’t like their faces buried under a mask.

With masks down and increased person-to-person contact, we have the perfect environment for the virus to spread fast and widely across the country. We should all be particularly concerned that testing remains limited and concentrated in the large urban areas.

Contact tracing is at best moribund. We should be also concerned that we have not built enough healthcare capacity to deal with a second and geographically distributed coronavirus infection wave.

People are tired of sheltering at home. I understand the frustration and callous cynicism among the younger segment of our population who somehow imagine that the health risks of Covid-19 are overstated. Parents want their children back at school. We all want to be out there with our friends having a roaring time.

 

Lockdown and other forms of restrictions that curtail economic activity will have disastrous consequences on an enfeebled economy. Citizens must take more responsibility for their health. Moreover, the government must enforce health and safety measures more stringently. We cannot have our cake and eat it.