As the number of confirmed corona virus infections creeps to over 75000 , uneasiness and anxiety seems to grip Kenyans over the government’s capability in abating the spread of the deadly virus into the country.
I say this because of the government’s reluctance in the way it has handled the covid-19 scare. For example the country’s carrier, Kenya Airways was adamant to cancel its flights to China until it bowed to pressure mounted on it by Kenyans on various social media platforms.
Initially, Kenya Airways had resorted to reassure the country, saying that they were ‘monitoring the situation’. KQ finally cancelled its flight on 31st January, just a day after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared corona virus a global health emergency.
The bilateral trade ties between Kenya and China is also another matter to consider given Kenya is a weaker partner and is therefore vulnerable to manipulation. It is for this reason that President Uhuru Kenyatta had to clarify that scraping of China bound flights were not due to ‘political’ reasons.
“We have stopped our flight into Chinese cities. All I can say is that there are no politics here. We don’t have the capacity to build a hospital in seven days,” he said at the Atlantic Council Forum in Washington (5/2/2020).
As Kenyans continue asking themselves whether we are well prepared should Corona virus strike, it is even shocking that a raft of strategies introduced are being mishandled. For instance, it is just last week that a Chinese employee of a road construction company suspected to have contracted the disease arrived into the country and traveled all the way from Nairobi to Kitui using a taxi.This was contrary to a directive requiring that Chinese travelers entering the country self-quarantine themselves for at least 15 days.
Worse even, his seniors at the road construction camp had to be compelled by the police before finally accepting the sickly man to be tested.
It was a relief when the tests turned negative but we cannot ignore the risks we could be exposed to if the results turned otherwise. How would we prevent the spread of the infection across our overcrowded streets? What about the vast majority of Kenyans using congested matatus daily?
According to a study by the Northeastern University (US), Kenya was ranked as being at the 6th highest risk for contracting the virus spread. Although the country hasn’t confirmed any case, it will be important to consider WHO’s directive of 30th January that the disease was declared a global health emergency principally to safeguard countries with weak health systems; Kenya included.
Latest reports indicate Corona virus has been responsible for at least 2200 deaths although the number of new infections are subsiding. WHO however maintains that the decline should not signal a ‘time for complacency’.