The fight against the COVID-19 has called for tough measures not only on the economy but also on the social conduct of the people. Most countries have imposed lockdown, cessation, and curfews among other measures to ensure that members of the public are safe and not at risk of contracting and transmitting the deadly virus. All these measures have been made to at least to flatten the curve on which the COVID-19 is spreading.
Kenya is not lurking behind in this fight. Below is an illustration curve on how the virus spread is taking its course.
It is clear how the curve can rapidly grow against time if no preventive measures are taken. On the other hand, we see how the preventive measures can flatten the curve to manageable levels given the medical or health capacity.
In Kenya, the curve seems to be flattening, of course after a series of directives issued by the Government and the Ministry of Health. The directives given include thorough washing of hands with running water and soap for at least twenty seconds, sanitizing, keeping a social distance of about 1.5 meters and staying at home between 7:00 pm till 5:00 am. These measures have been adhered to and could be the reason as to why COVID-19 positive tests are significantly reducing. On the regions that have been termed as the epicentres of the virus, a cessation directive was issued to prohibit mobility of people in and out of the regions.
By the look of things, the Kenyan Ministry of Health could be winning on this fight despite the impacts the measures have on the economy. For instance, social distancing has greatly affected the transport sector in that public vehicles can only transport 60% of their carrying capacity. This has led to reduced marginal profits by the transporters as everyone now is keen to tame the spread and deal with the economy once the enemy is successfully subdued.
On a normal day in a season like this, multitudes flock major cities and towns to shop and have fun to celebrate Easter break but the rhythm has been halted by the COVID-19 disease. The government also cancelled all the international flights (in a bid to control imported cases of the spread), reduction of salaries for some staffs, tax relief of 5% for employees earning above 24,000 KES and tax exemption for earnings below 24,000 KES as well as the closure of some sectors such as hotels.
The government also reduced taxation on some services to enable the citizens to meet their needs in these hard times. It is known that tax is the main source of government revenue and the directive to relief citizens of the same is a clear show of how serious Coronavirus menace is. It would be easier to wait to revive the economy than to bury thousands of people when the situation goes out of hand.
We cannot overlook the projections that the ministry of health had given 2 or 3 weeks ago that the infection may rise to 5,000 by the mid of April and hit 10,000 infections by the end of the month. Thank God this is not practically possible depending on the statistics we have so far. Kenyans have washed hands than they ever did before, sanitized, kept a social distance and obeyed the curfew directive. This has successfully controlled the spread and hence seemingly diminishing the spread of COVID-19.
The devil may as well be in the detail as the government is going to embark on mass testing and no one is certain of how the situation will be. Mass testing is the only thing that can give a scientifically representative population sample for over 40 million Kenyans. For the time being, everyone should stay safe. Keep social distancing, wash hands, stay home, stay healthy.
*** By Benard Muimi***