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Nairobi residents not anxious about Covid-19: Survey

Friday July 03 2020
Informal sector pic

Traders go about their business at Gikomba Market in Nairobi on March 18, 2020. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By BRIAN OKINDA

Nairobi residents are the least worried of contracting the novel coronavirus compared to , a new survey shows.

While majority of Kenyans (65 percent) are anxious about contracting the disease, only 52 percent of those living in Nairobi are tense about it compared to 72 percent in central region, a report by Trends and Insights for Africa (TIFA) has revealed.

According to the survey released Thursday, 26 percent of people living in Nairobi say they are not bothered at all about Covid-19 while 17 percent are only a little worried.

The trend in Nairobi is closely shadowed by that of Coast region. Both counties have emerged as the epicentres of the disease in the country.

The report which sought to highlight Covid-19 stigma and the state of mental health with regards to the effects of the pandemic, says that at 46 percent, almost half of those who participated are pessimistic about the future of the crisis.

They feel the worst is yet to come.

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Slightly over about one-third (33 percent) however feel that the worst has passed and the situation will improve while 13 percent anticipate no change saying the situation will remain the same.

The apprehension has resulted in incidences of psychological stress among Kenyans. This is depicted by feeling irritable, depressed and destitute (23 percent), being nervous or on edge (22 percent), as well as trouble sleeping (19) percent.

Those who, as a result, resorted to consuming alcohol are more likely males living in Nairobi while those who have consequently used a substance –tobacco, coffee, and tea among others– more than usual are aged between 34 and 44 and live in Central and Nairobi regions.

Even so, the survey reveals that majority of Kenyans –more than three quarters– are now ‘highly likely’ to go for voluntary testing for the virus if the test was offered free of charge in their neighborhood.

“There are no significant differences in the propensity to test for both male and female respondents. However, the older respondents are more likely to test for Covid-19 and this could be attributed to the fact that they are a higher risk.

The regions with a slightly lower propensity to go for voluntary test include Nairobi (70 percent) and Rift Valley (73 percent),” says the report in part.

Those unlikely to go for the test cite concerns about the discomfort of the process, fear of going for mandatory quarantine and lack of trust in the testing kits.

A noteworthy proportion fear stigmatisation from family and neighbours should they be found to have the disease.

For those likely to go for the test, there is also the fear that the test may be painful, they may be subjected to mandatory quarantine and also the prospect of experiencing stigma from their neighbours.

Stigmatisation, which has lately emerged as a key issue is highlighted in the survey with 23 percent of individuals saying they would stigmatise recovered patients. Nonetheless, over three quarters of Kenyans would visit a recovered patient.

Higher stigma arises when it comes to children unaffected by the disease interacting with those of recovered patients.

The survey found that fewer females would allow their children to play with other children from recovered patients with older folk –aged those aged more than 45, showing more stigma towards interacting with recuperated patients.

The highest stigma, the report reveals, happens in the Rift Valley where only 48 percent would allow their children to play with children of an affected family and 73 percent would visit an affected household.

North Eastern region however hosts the most liberals 90 percent of those interrogated saying they would visit the family of someone who has recovered from the disease, while 86 percent would allow their children to play with children from an affected family.

Stigma with regards to attending a funeral of a close friend who has died from Covid-19, is mostly experienced in Eastern, Rift and Nyanza regions, where only 51, 58 and 59 percent respectively say they would only attend the funeral if the number of mourners attending is not more than 15.

A worrying twist in the survey with regards to positive tests indicates that majority (55 percent) would not disclose their status to family, friends and relatives.

Many (65 percent) would not share the contacts of those they interacted with to Ministry of Health for tracing, a bigger number (74 percent) would not inform their friends and relatives and an even bigger figure (84 percent) would not even go to their religious leaders. Even worse, 31 percent say they would not self-isolate.

“The actions to be taken by respondents across the regions is [largely] similar. However Central region respondents have a higher propensity to share the test results with immediate family, and Coast region is more likely to inform friends and relatives and self-isolate,” says the survey report.

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