PANDEMIC

State should extend coronavirus forums to remote rural areas

Educate people on how to protect themselves from the virus and what to do when already infected

In Summary

• Directive by the government that all public service vehicles provide sanitizer will not work unless the operators are given the disinfectant. 

• Trained personnel should be dispatched to the grassroots level to educate communities. 

Matatus crowded in Nairobi's CBD. Congestion increases risk of coronavirus.
PRECAUTION: Matatus crowded in Nairobi's CBD. Congestion increases risk of coronavirus.
Image: FILE

Kenya on Friday joined the list of the countries which have confirmed the dreaded coronavirus.

But how prepared is the country to manage the virus declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization?

Will it be the same speeches we are treated to alongside empty promises by the political class?

The government should have built isolation centres and hired extra medical staff the moment the virus broke out. That is what preparedness means; not sitting back to wait for the virus to get into the country to start running up and down to get everything right in the last minute. This is no different from buying Christmas presents on Christmas morning. 

Having barely prepared sections in one or two hospitals will only serve the people around the hospitals, who may not even be infected. The government should hence, go deeper into villages to create awareness of the deadly pandemic and educate the people on how to protect themselves from the virus and what to do when already infected – to keep others safe from infection. 

Trained personnel should be dispatched to the grassroots level to educate communities on the steps to take to protect their families out in the public and at their homes, how to identify symptoms of the virus, how to self-quarantine when one suspects infection. 

The Ministry of Transport should also be involved as the majority of Kenyans use public transport to move around. The directive by the government that all public service vehicles provide disinfectant will not work unless the operators are given the disinfectant. Otherwise, they will hike fares and transfer the burden to the already-overwhelmed Wanjiku. 

Measures should also be put up to protect children in schools across the country. Schools are crowded – hence without figuring out a way to keep learners safe, the state's order to ban all public gatherings will be ineffective. All teachers should also have knowledge of hygiene practices to keep out the virus. 

As we wait for the government to act, we should take up the initiative of practising good hygiene and avoiding unnecessary contact with everyone we come across. We should sneeze into a tissue and dispose of it, cover our mouths when we cough and wash our hands constantly throughout the day with water and soap or disinfect them with sanitizer. 

 

Kisumu