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MUGURE: Striking balance between stopping Covid-19 and a return to normalcy

Wednesday June 03 2020
By MUGURE KAMAU

Throughout the Covid-19 global pandemic we have seen a range of types of leadership. Many have failed, and leaders will fall as a result. It is a terribly difficult dance between suppressing the spread of the virus and ensuring the economy continues to thrive.

The government put in place measures including restriction of movement in and out of Nairobi, and dusk to dawn curfew to check on the spread of the virus.

While some see the current mortality rate at four per cent as very high, the experts say the number of asymptomatic people keeps growing. This means fewer people have been tested.

The government has been collaborating with experts in other nations in order to appraise the situation and learn best practices.

President Uhuru Kenyatta recently hinted that it is time to start the slow return to a new normal.

“We will not continue with the lockdown and the curfew. I have told health officials and my ministers that they should start telling Kenyans we cannot be under a curfew or lockdown forever,” President Kenyatta said.

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This does not mean there will be no new infections, or any further deaths, this is as likely as people dying for any number of other reasons.

Life is about calculated risks. Life is about weighing out the risks with the benefits of a certain action. We take the necessary precautions and try our best to proceed.

If we were to maintain the curfews and containment measures for too long, our economy would suffer exponentially. Many more people would lose their income and families would be pushed into devastating poverty while industries might not recover.

This would result in many more deaths.

A leader who worries about public relations would merely try and suppress the fatalities from Covid-19 because that is what the media and public are focusing on. They do not focus on fatalities from other causes, so they could fly under the radar.

A leader who cares about their people and wants to see them succeed will worry less about the platitudes and more about the real consequences, of action and of inaction.

They will act with determination to stop the spread of the disease as quickly as possible.

There will of course be critics. Some will say he has opened up too soon, others that he has taken too long.

Most of these critics have no access to the real facts and want merely to get attention and ride the misery of others to fame and popularity.

The only way that Covid-19 will be properly and permanently eradicated is with an effective vaccine, and the best-case scenario is that one won’t be ready for mass distribution for at least another year, if not longer.

The only other way to completely eradicate the virus is to completely close down the whole country and our borders, and to confine every person to their homes for some undetermined amount of time.

This is simply not an option, as it is unsustainable, so an exit strategy has to be formulated and we will have to learn to live with the virus.

It is an enormously difficult task to find the right balance, but President Kenyatta is certainly getting as close as possible to striking it. 

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