Coronavirus: Kenya’s exit strategy,
The outbreak of Covid-19 in Kenya has hit the country hard. Many preventive measures have been put in place to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus. The cessation of travel into and out of the most hit counties of Nairobi, Mombasa, Kilifi, Kwale and recently Mandera was made to contain the virus and prevent its spread to more regions of the country. The Ministry of Health lead by the CS, Mutahi Kagwe has constantly warned Kenyans that this disease will treat us abnormally if we take it normally. Questions have been raised on the ability of the government to tame the spread given that even after the partial lockdown of the said epicentres; the testing has been very minimal. According to many citizens, there was supposed to be mass testing of individuals within the lockdown period.
Recently, the president ordered the opening of hotels in the country though adhere to very strict guidelines given by the ministry. Could this mean that the government is slowly opening up the country? There is an outcry by many other businesses including the transport sector and surprisingly the church to also consider their activities opened. As much as people want to get back from their new normal, there is still fear from the experts that this might expose the country to the pandemic.
Some governments have indeed opened up their countries and now the focus is to revive the economy. Our country, Kenya is not yet at the point of conducting business as usual given that approximately only 0.04 of the Kenyan population has been tested yielding 2% infection rate. This statistically translates to more than 900,000 cases if the entire population was tested for Coronavirus. With this said, there are now only three conditions that Kenya must consider to ease the restrictions.
Conditions for easing Covid-19 restrictions.
The first option will be to test widely and rapidly countrywide. This should include the asymptomatic cohort and it will help the experts understand how widespread the virus is. The second option will be to enhance or upgrade contact tracing. Contact tracing ensures that all known contacts of a known infection are identified and isolated to prevent further spread. Last but not least is the idea of strengthening local response capabilities. This includes closure of all the hotspots where cases have been reported such as what is happening to the five counties in Kenya.
There is much pressure on the government to reopen their economies but the medical experts are warning against hurrying to lift the restrictions prematurely as this can spark a more deadly wave that will undermine the gains witnessed so far.