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OPENING UP THE COUNTRY

Easing Covid-19 restrictions should be strategic and targeted

Many countries are either mulling or have already began the process of easing the restrictions.

In Summary

• President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to, one way or the other, make some form of concessions on the stringent restrictions that have seen the country on a partial lockdown for a while now.

• Yet it is a decision that must be delicately carried out owing to the fact that when such restrictions were first announced,Kenya had fewer incidences of the coronavirus infections with even much fewer deaths. 

President Uhuru Kenyatta addresses the Nation on the Coronavirus pandemic at State House, Nairobi. In attendance are Cabinet Secretaries Dr. Fred Matiang'i (Interior), Mutahi Kagwe (Health) and Ukur Yatani (Treasury).
President Uhuru Kenyatta addresses the Nation on the Coronavirus pandemic at State House, Nairobi. In attendance are Cabinet Secretaries Dr. Fred Matiang'i (Interior), Mutahi Kagwe (Health) and Ukur Yatani (Treasury).
Image: PSCU

Decision on whether to ease Covod-19 restrictions and how to safely do so will be a hard one to make.

President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to, one way or the other, make some form of concessions on the stringent restrictions that have seen the country on a partial lockdown for a while now.

Yet it is a decision that must be delicately carried out owing to the fact that when such restrictions were first announced,Kenya had fewer incidences of the coronavirus infections with even much fewer deaths. 

Today, however, we are faced with a high number that ordinarily would call for stricter measures were it not for livelihood issues. The Covid-19 pandemic situation has exposed our economic soft underbelly. It has shown us that apart from the much vaunted rural poverty, the urban one is a ticking time bomb!

Some people were of the opinion that a total lockdown for, say two weeks, could have worked wonders. However, mechanisms for effectively doing so and ensure adequate provisions for the poor and needy households were not in place and the government had to balance between containing the spread and allowing people to continue fending for themselves, albeit in a restricted atmosphere. 

Many countries are either mulling or have already began the process of easing the restrictions. Most such countries imposed much stricter measures,eg, total lockdown, making strategic roll-back much understandable with the current understanding that we may have to live with the disease for unforeseeable future.

Still,it has not escaped observers that the domestic politics has seen countries such as the US and Tanzania with impending elections take unconventional steps, out of tune  with the WHO stances and empirical evidence.

The clash between science and whimsical notions has been more poignant during coronvirus has been witnessed, especially among health experts themselves and economic and other social stakeholders.

President Uhuru Kenyatta must take steps that rescue the economy from a free fall while making sure that the disease burden doesn't come to overwhelm our health system.This is a case against unmitigated easing of restrictions.Any such measures must be strategic and targeted.

Odhiambo Jamwa is an economic and political analyst