Coronavirus disease or COVID 19 is here with us, already twenty eight people in Kenya have tested positive but there is hope after the announcement that one has recovered.
The pandemic has infected over 300,000 people worldwide with an estimated 14,000 dead as at March 23.
The existential threat of COVID 19 to humanity is real. The pandemic has had a destabilizing impact on global political, economic and social order and Kenya is no exception.
The Government must be commended for enforcing stringent public health measures designed to curb the potential escalation of COVID 19 within our borders. The directives are mainly intended to limit person-to-person interactions, seen as a powerful catalyst of COVID 19 transmission.
Additionally, travel restrictions including a lockdown of the country’s airspace are already in effect, with travelers into the country now undergoing a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine.
But even as these measures are implemented, many Kenyans are yet to take the threat posed by COVID 19 seriously. They remain complacent on social distancing while some continue to defy the government directives on self-quarantine.
For example, a local Catholic priest returned recently from Italy – currently the deadliest hot spot of the pandemic – and interacted with hundreds of mourners at a burial in western Kenya. A deputy governor attended public gatherings knowing very well he was a high-risk person having recently arrived from Europe.
Such reckless behavior is seriously endangering lives and if not checked will likely trigger an explosion of the disease in the country.
This is why we must all religiously adhere to social distancing and other precautions in order to arrest the disease before it consumes us. Those who fail to obey public health directives should be made to suffer the full wrath of the law regardless of their social status.
Tracking of those who may have come into contact with infected persons must be ruthlessly enforced to minimize the risk of community spread.
It is important to note that Kenya has scored some positive milestones that catapult her at the forefront of the global fight against coronavirus:
First, Kenya was recently chosen by the World Health Organisation and the African Union to host the African Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) effectively transforming the country into a future regional hub of medical research and disease control.
Second, Kenya last week became the first country in Africa to unveil a telemedicine technology hub for detection of coronavirus. This will boost her ability to respond to the contagious pandemic that is sweeping across the world like a bush fire and share information on ways to contain COVID with other countries.
Third, several eminent Kenyan scientists have been enlisted in the global search for a vaccine for the coronavirus. They include respected virologists and epidemiologists based at the University of Nairobi’s Kenya Aids Vaccine Institute and at the Kenya Medical Research Institute. Their role includes identifying suitable candidates for vaccine trials as well as research into coronavirus management strategies.
Again, this gives the local scientific community exposure to global best practice and expertise in medical research and innovation. It also further raises Kenya’s international profile in the global scientific circles and builds on previous contributions by our scientists in the fields of medical research and vaccine development.
The examples highlighted above demonstrate Kenya’s unique position to champion the global fight against the COVID pandemic even as the country grapples with the looming threat of disease to her people.
We therefore must remain vigilant against the enemy and ensure we are at the forefront in eliminating COVID 19 through embracing social distancing and other precautions in our daily lives going forward until we win this war.
The views expressed in this article don’t necessarily represent KBC’s opinion