Kenya enters a crucial moment this week as the impact of the lifting of the Covid-19 regulations begin to take effect. This is the week that churches and mosques will reopen to allow congregants to worship physically after four months. For the past few days, the faiths have been consulting on the best ways of resuming their operations within the prescribed limitations.
A major development is in the transport sector, where long-distance vehicles will begin commuting across the country, ferrying passengers to distances away from the cities and mainly to the villages, which have recorded comparatively minimal cases. Added to this is the resumption of domestic flights.
When President Kenyatta relaxed some of the restrictions last week, his parting shot was that the responsibility to contain infections will largely depend on the public. The burden had shifted from the State to the citizens.
It’s the way the people organise themselves, carry out their activities and relate that will determine whether we minimise infections or create a surge and with the dreaded ramifications.
For the past two weeks, the levels of infections have generally increased. To date, the country has hit the 10,000 infection mark and counting. Projections by Health ministry show that the peak is yet to come, which is why restrictions remain on school reopening.
Similarly, deaths arising from Covid-19 are on the rise and heading to the 200 mark. Contrastingly, recoveries, which were initially on the rise, are declining, and that is sending a chilling message that all is not well. By regional comparison — and outside Tanzania, where figures are not forthcoming — ours is a peaking situation.
Increasing infection cases are stretching health facilities. The Health ministry has sent out the alarm that its facilities cannot cope with the cases. In fact, ICU facilities for the extreme cases are all occupied.
To ease congestion in national hospitals, the government directed counties to expand their health facilities and ensure they have at least 300 beds for coronavirus cases. Less than half of them had achieved that as at the last count.
Since the restrictions were lifted, there has been a general laxity among the population, presumably on the misguided belief that the pandemic was easing and that things were not as bad.
They are returning to their old ways of doing things. Health protocols such as wearing of face masks, social distancing and hygiene are routinely being ignored. This is the folly we have to deal with.
The burden rests on the public. We call for renewed vigilance to avert infections and a monumental crisis that we cannot manage.