Response to COVID-19 in Kenya 10 Months on, Impressive?

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As Covid-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc across the globe and The worst hit being European nations including England that is still under lockdown, interventions by The Kenyan government have posted good results given that mortalities and infections have currently dwindled.

From mid-March when the first positive case of Covid-19 was confirmed in Kenya with a population of 47.6 million up to date, a total of 1,130, 707 people have been screened whereby 99, 162 tested positive, more than 82, 478 patients who were under home-based care and some in hospitals recovered while 1,734 patients died.

Successful implementation of the Covid-19 rules received a major boost following the establishment of the Covid-19 emergency fund that facilitated The establishment and running of isolation Centers and quarantine facilities.

Each of the 47 county governments were ordered to use part of their revenue in the fight against the pandemic and the money sourced was spent in the purchase of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) including facemasks.

The Covid-19 infections spiked after the redundant July 2020 when President Uhuru Kenyatta through the advice from Covid-19 national emergency task force relaxed some of the health protocols and Kenyans could now move from one end of the country to the other as long as the vehicles and aircraft they use for travel strictly observed the laid down Covid-19 rules like fumigation, social distancing and mandatory use of facemasks.

However, Kenya’s success in the fight against Covid-19 whose curve is now flattening is attributed to the successful enforcement of the laid down health protocols among them night curfew, partial lockdown that resulted in the cancelation of local and international flights plus local public transport, ban on public gatherings including political rallies, hand washing, mandatory use of face masks and closure of all public learning institutions plus religious organizations like churches and mosques.

The successful fight against Covid-19 was also made possible through widespread sensitizations through state and non-state agencies, the establishment of isolation centres and quarantine facilities in all the 47 counties plus all the border entry points like Busia and Namanga which connects with Uganda and Tanzania respectively.

The tourism and hospitality industry that was hardly hit by the pandemic is gradually beginning to resurface though some areas like The Rift Valley region which were affected by flooding of lakes Turkana, Naivasha, Baringo, Nakuru and Bogoria are faced with great difficulties that hurdle enforcement of Covid-19 rules especially in schools that were submerged by the flooded lakes and had to relocate to schools in safer areas leading to crowding.

The effects of Covid-19 impacted Kenya’s economy negatively and now that the flattening of the curve has been attained, learning institutions that remained closed since March 2020 began from January o4, 2021 to reopen.

Baringo County with a population of close to 700,000 according to the 2019 national demographic survey was among the last three counties in Kenya to have confirmed Covid-19 cases; to date according to a report by Ministry of Health, less than 200 people have tested positive, about 300 recovered while less than 20 died of the deadly viral disease.

The county government under the leadership of Governor Stanley Kiptis worked in tandem with the national government and managed to establish isolation centres in Kabarnet, Mogotio and Eldama Ravine towns with facilitation from the Sh200 million county Coivd-19 funds.

Though there were claims of embezzlement of the Covid funds by the officials tasked to utilize the money which was partly used to buy hand washing containers that were stationed at strategic positions in all public places like matatu terminus and key public institutions.

The fight against Covid-19 in Baringo also got great support from agencies operating within the county like Kerio Valley Development Authority, Geothermal Development Company, Rift Valley Water Works Development Agency, faith-based organizations, the NG-CDF, Non-Governmental Organizations including World Vision Kenya and Kenya Red Cross Society which gave donations of non-food items targeting vulnerable residents.

The great impediment in the fight against Covid-19 in Baringo like most parts of Kenya is the pandemic fatigue whereby residents are tired and reluctant to strictly adhere to the healthy protocols like social distancing in the public transport sector, hand washing and putting of facemasks in public places.

The other factor contributing to the continued but slow spread of Covid-19 in Baringo like many other regions in Kenya is the fact that more than 90 percent of new infections are asymptomatic thus health people contract the virus after unsuspectingly intermingling with those infected.

Also, observations through mainstream and social media indicate that the virus spread as some social joints in the county like bars and clubs operate even past curfew hours besides failing to comply with required guidelines like social distancing and use of thermoguns.

Consequently, the media analysis established that failure or reluctance by county health and security teams to enforce the Covid-19 rules was too promoting the spread of the deadly viral disease.

Meanwhile, during latest visit by high-ranking state officials led by labour Principal Secretary Peter Tum, his counterparts Jerome Ochieng of ICT and Joseph Irungu of Water plus government Spokesman Col. Retired Cyrus Oguna flanked by county commissioner Henry Wafula while on a tour to assess the Covid-19 preparedness particularly on school reopening in the county, they expressed their gratitude for what they termed as impressive progress.

Their major area of concern was however the failure of learners opportunity to report back to school due to practice of retrogressive cultural activities like early marriages and traditional male circumcision which denied hundreds of learners opportunity to resume learning because they were circumcised shortly before the schools reopened after the nearly 10-month closure occasioned by Covid-19 pandemic.

The Water PS while addressing the press at Chemolingot Boys’ High School whereby 142 out of 347 students had reported during the end of the second week of full school reopening, noted with disappointment that the traditional circumcision that takes three months and is commonly practiced in areas like Tiaty West sub-county must be stopped for it has greatly hampered smooth resumption of learning.

Tiaty Member of Parliament William Kamket who described the cases as regrettable said the majority of the parents took advantage of the Covid-19 break to go on with circumcision but he assured the team that the 100 percent school reporting shall be attained before the end of this month.

The government spokesman further ruled out the possibility of attaining a 100 percent prevention of Covid-19 urged managers of learning institutions in Baringo and all other parts of the country to establish isolation units within their schools to place children in case of an outbreak.

Oguna who encouraged schools to utilize open spaces in place of classrooms to the guaranteed free circulation of air and observance of social distancing noted that the government has bought 7.5 million facemasks to be distributed to learners from needy families adding that Ksh 19 billion was allocated to the ministry of education to enhance the smooth running of schools after the Covid-19 break.

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