The unexpected crisis, Covid-19 one year on

First reported in Wuhan City, China in December 2019, the Covid-19 disease had within three months spread to nearly every country across the globe resulting in economic and social disruptions.

In March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Covid-19 a global pandemic, pointing to over 118,000 cases of the coronavirus illness in over 110 countries across the world.

This followed a ban on International travel with countries moving in haste to install measures that would curtail the spread of the virus.

Kenya reports first Covid-19 positive case

On 13th March 2020, Kenya announced her first Covid-19 positive case, and days later, all schools were closed indefinitely. Restaurants, bars and all entertainment joints as well as places of worship followed suit as they were viewed as super spreaders of the virus.

The nature of the disease was still not clear among Kenyans but WHO stressed on the need to maintain proper hygiene, proper sanitization of hands and urged people to refrain from random handshakes and hugs. WHO also recommended 14 days quarantine for contacts of patients confirmed to have tested positive for the disease.

In Kenya, individuals arriving from outside the country were also forced to quarantine for 14 days before undergoing a Covid-19 test to confirm their status.

Two weeks after the first case was recorded in the country, President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered a nationwide dusk to dawn curfew effective from 7pm to 5am. Kenyans were urged to put on face masks, maintain social distance including in Public Service Vehicles and in all social places to prevent further spread of the contagion.

One month later in April 2020, Kenya had recorded over 200 Covid-19 cases with infections most dominant in Nairobi and the Coast regions.

To tame the spread of the virus, the government instituted partial lockdowns, banning movement in and out of Nairobi, Kilifi, Kwale and Mombasa Counties for a period of 21 days. Three weeks later, the government imposed a similar ban in Mandera County and only essential service providers were exempted.

Borders in the neighbouring Tanzania, Uganda were closed down, Cargo drivers were subjected to mandatory Covid-19 tests before crossing over the country’s common borders in a development that led to delays but which proponents argued was indeed necessary.

The Ministry of Health led by Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe provided daily Covid-19 updates and continued sensitizing Kenyans on the need to observe the set safety guidelines to keep the disease at bay.

The curfew was later reviewed to kick off from 10pm to 5am, restriction of movement in counties was also lifted though it was clear the coronavirus pandemic was not ending anytime soon as millions of cases and hundreds of deaths were being reported in other countries.

Covid-19 second wave
As the adverse effects of the pandemic continued to manifest, Kenyans adjusted to the new normal, the government working against time to come up with measures that would see a gradual reopening of the economy, schools as well as social gatherings.

Eventually, restaurants and bars, churches were allowed to reopen amid strict protocols meant to ensure social distance was adhered to.

Schools were also reopened gradually with learners in class eight, form four and Grade four resuming learning. Kenya, it appeared, was winning the war against Covid-19 and the Ministry of Health recorded less cases of the disease.

However, In October 2020, CS Kagwe announced the second wave of the coronavirus. The country was recording more than 700 cases a day, and in some cases, over 60 people would succumb to the virus each week.

It was during this period when CS Kagwe coined a slogan to sensitize Kenyans to keep their guard saying, “When we treat this disease normally, it will treat us very abnormally.”

The Ministry of Health attributed the rising number of cases to increased political activity across the country.

Instances of Kenyans attending political rallies without donning face masks were witnessed amid concerns on the role of politicians in spearheading the fight against Covid-19.

Despite the warning of a second wave, usual activities were still going on and Kenya was indeed making huge strides in her efforts to defeat Coronavirus.

Arrival of Vaccines and Covid-19 third wave
Fast forward to 2021, the Ministry of Health anticipated an increase in the number of Covid-19 cases due to interactions during the Christmas and New Year holidays but that was never the case, the country continued to record relatively low number of positive cases.

On 4th January 2021, full resumption of learning in schools kicked off with strict adherence to safety protocols in efforts meant to recover the lost school calendar. Face masks were to become part of the learners’ school uniform and not even the challenge of overcrowding could stop the process.

In February 2021, Covid-19 cases remained low and the Ministry of Health continued to issue daily updates on the status of the disease.

4th March 2021 would present renewed hope for the country in the fight against the pandemic following the arrival of the Oxford Astrazeneca vaccine.

Kenya received 1.02 million doses under the Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) program and this was later followed by an additional 100,000 doses of the jab as a donation from the Indian government.

According to CS Kagwe, Kenya aims at vaccinating 1.25 million Kenyans in the first phase and 9.6 million in the second phase. In the long term, the country plans to vaccinate about 15 million people across the country constituting about 30% of the total population by the end of June 2023.

Counties across the country have rolled out the vaccination drive with healthcare workers, security personnel, teachers and first responders given the first priority.

But even as the country hopes to combat the disease through vaccination, CS Kagwe has warned of a looming third wave of covid-19 urging Kenyans not to lower their guard.

The country has recorded a daily case load of more than 700 cases consecutively, the highest number since last year with the positivity rate shooting up to 14% from a sustained average of around 2%.

So far, Kenya has recorded over 111,000 cases and over 1,800 deaths with recoveries standing at 87,994.

The surge in Covid-19 cases during the third wave has also been attributed to political gatherings which attract huge number of crowds thus fueling transmission of the disease.

In first Presidential address on Covid-19 in 2021, President Uhuru Kenyatta banned political gatherings across the country for a period of 30 days.

The President also extended the nationwide dusk to curfew for a further 60 days calling upon Kenyans to exercise civic responsibility in the fight against Covid-19.

One year on since the first case was reported, Kenyans continue to feel the impact, of the now new normal, despite not recording huge numbers as compared to other countries globally.

The call to adhere to safety protocols is still on and remains the best bet yet to overcoming the Covid-19 disease, which despite the development of vaccines, could be with us a little longer according experts.


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