August 7, 2020

COVID-19 MITIGATION: What does it Mean When Cessation of Movement is Ceased?

Prof Halimu Shauri. Image: MWAKWAYA RAYMOND

Episode 46

BY PROF HALIMU SHAURI

(Dean; School of Humanities and Social Sciences; Pwani University)

Kenyans are expectant to the content of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s address to the nation today with regard to the status of the COVID-19 mitigation measures put in place to protect citizens from infections.

Key in the measures that Kenyans are keen to hear from the president is on the cessation of movement and Curfew. Why? You may ask! Because Kenyans are tired staying and working at home oblivious of the COVID-19 risks staring at them. Why do I say so?

It’s simply illogical as we contemplate opening up the country when infections have surpassed the 7000 mark and growing, while we closed when infections were very low. Indeed, we closed when infections were low and we are expecting to open when infections are high. This is a bit worrying given the level of preparedness of the country, especially counties to handle mass infections.

PREPAREDNESS

Reports on preparedness of counties are not encouraging. With only 15 counties lastly reporting to have met the 300 COVID-19 bed capacity out of 47 is scaring.

Remember successful mitigation is not about bed capacity and human resources but a comprehensive package that involves many facets of mitigating a pandemic to include protective equipment, human resources, logistics, intensive care preparedness etc.

More precisely, reports of overstretched health care human resources in County are scaring.  Reports on health care workers getting infected with COVID-19 themselves are scaring. Reports on over stretched health care facilities are scaring.

Reports on full capacity Intensive Care Units in our major hospitals with COVID-19 patients are scaring. Reports on increased daily infection rates are scaring.

Prof Halimu shauri: Image: MWAKWAYA RAYMOND

For the first time ever since the novel Corona Virus struck the country we have hit over 300 infections cases being reported daily.

Reports that the COVID-19 infection curve is growing step instead of flattening are scaring. If I may craft my saying in the line of Albert Einstein’s famous quote, if you know, you know:

“Insanity would have befallen us when we push and celebrate the opening of the economy, when signs are very clear we are courting mass infections or deaths”

Dangerous signs are out there as the virus is treating us, in the words of cabinet secretary Mutahi Kagwe, abnormally.

Opening the country now is akin to putting your hand inside a dark hole with food to feed a rat oblivious of the fact that there a venomous snake inside!

This is the time we must exercise extraordinary caution and resilience as a nation. Trying moments need tact, critical thinking and resilience.

President Uhuru Kenyatta at a past function. Image (courtesy)

There is no expert in mitigating COVID-19 but common sense, must really be common among us Kenyans.

I pray that the country sees the sense. In whichever way the president will go, Kenyans should know and be told that the presidential announcement will not amount to a declaration that COVID-19 is contained.

Kenyans must continue observing the guidelines till when a vaccine or cure if found. This is an unusual time and we must direct our current mode of thinking and feeling with regard to resumption of normalcy in the context of COVID-19. Extraordinary times are only managed by extraordinary wisdom and courage.

May the Almighty grant and guide our president with this wisdom and courage as he addresses the nation on the way forward with regard to COVID-19 mitigation in the country.

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