Increase public education about virus in rural areas

In Summary

• A KNH nurse was almost lynched in the village after nursing a Covid-19 patient in Nairobi

• Local people did not seem to realise the risk of touching someone who is infected with the virus

Health CS Mutahi Kagwe during the daily briefing on Covid-19 on Sunday, March 29, 2020.
Health CS Mutahi Kagwe during the daily briefing on Covid-19 on Sunday, March 29, 2020.

Kenyatta National Hospital nurse Anthony Langat was nearly lynched by villagers when he went home in Bomet after nursing a Covid-19 patient (see P3 main).

However. Langat has now tested negative for Covid-19 and his neighbours have calmed down.

Nevertheless, this story remains instructive. Stigma still surrounds Covid-19, especially in rural areas where people are not as well informed.

As we now know, we only catch Covid-19 if we touch the virus, and then proceed to touch our nose, eyes or mouth with our hand. In that sense, it is not very infectious. 

However, if Langat had actually been positive, the local people should not have tried to touch him. If they kept a social distance, they would not catch the virus. If they beat him up, and he was positive, they probably would have caught the virus.

Stigma is a product of ignorance. The villagers behaved like that because they were frightened and wanted to eliminate any risk to themselves.

In the early stages of the coronavirus scare, government worked hard to inform the public about Covid-19. But now it is mainly concentrating on telling people to wear masks and wash their hands.

This nasty incident in Bomet shows there is still a continuing need for public health education about the basic nature of Covid-19. Government should intensify its public education in rural areas.

Quote of the day: "One-fifth of the people are against everything all the time."

Robert Kennedy
Sirhan Sirhan was convicted of assassinating the American politician on April 17, 1969