LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Government must put resources in war on Covid-19

Social distancing is crucial, but it cannot be sustained forever.

In Summary

• The steps Kenyans are taking are having an impact but some people are still bending the rules, or ignoring them.

• No gatherings of any size. No non-essential businesses. Self-quarantine rules for travellers should be orders, not requests.

Covid-19 Emergency Fund boss Jane Karuku when she received Sh100 million foodstuffs donated by the Hindu Council of Kenya at Nyayo National Stadium on Friday, April 10
DONATION: Covid-19 Emergency Fund boss Jane Karuku when she received Sh100 million foodstuffs donated by the Hindu Council of Kenya at Nyayo National Stadium on Friday, April 10
Image: COURTESY

As we have seen so far, coronavirus is highly infectious, with each case typically infecting 2–3 others.

The steps Kenyans are taking are having an impact but some people are still bending the rules, or ignoring them.

No gatherings of any size. No non-essential businesses. Self-quarantine rules for travellers should be orders, not requests. Social solidarity around the need for social distancing must be reinforced.

Kenya is behind the curve, and unless Kenyans countrywide fully embrace physical distancing, we cannot defeat the virus.

Social distancing is crucial, but it cannot be sustained forever.  Other measures are required to eventually allow the country to restart the economy, while keeping coronavirus at bay. Mass testing is a model to success.

World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has been quoted saying that we cannot fight a fire blindfolded. “And we cannot stop this pandemic if we don’t know who is infected. We have a simple message for all countries: test, test, and test. Test every suspected case. If they test positive, isolate them and find out who they have been in close contact with up to two days before they developed symptoms, and test those people too.”

The level of Covid-19 testing in this country is considerably very low and capacity is ramping down. Nevertheless, it’s clear that Kenya needs to be able to test more, and quickly process results.

To do this, the government must pour resources into this. We do not have to test everyone in Kenya but al those with symptoms, and those in contact with them.

Kenya must test more vulnerable locations where infection can spread, such as slums and other hotspots.

Also, more healthcare workers must be tested, so that they remain able to work, without spreading the virus.

Other measures include the provision of protective personal equipment (PPE) to frontline health care professionals.

PPE includes basic disposable materials such as rubber gloves and gowns and, for this fight, face masks and higher-tech items such as face shields and respirator masks.

Right now, Kenya insufficiently prepared. Doctors and nurses are our most valuable resource, and our capacity to protect them is still behind the curve

David Kipkorir, Eldoret