Careful, don’t lower your guard just yet

September 2020 Dailynation ;A day after President Uhuru Kenyatta partially reopened the country, fear of a possible second wave Covid-19 infections is growing as some Kenyans fail to observe Ministry of Health guidelines. 

The President relaxed some of the tough measures that had been put in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19, expressing hope that the fight against the virus is bearing fruit; but warning against complacency.

Experience has shown that we are most vulnerable and fragile at the moment we think we have won. If we have won one battle against Covid-19, we have not yet won the war. The possibility of a second wave of this pandemic is real as we have seen in other countries,” he said. 

Experts have attributed the low number of new Covid-19 cases being announced to few tests and not the flattening of the curve.

Dangerous behaviour

“There is behaviour relaxation and this is very dangerous,” said Ms 

Sylvia Kasanga, chairman of the Senate Covid-19 Committee.

“We cannot cope with the dynamics that come with night life and clubs. That is why the opening of the economy is in phases.”

The Kenya Medical Association (KMA) has warned against the full reopening of the country, saying the government must ensure the risk of community transmission is eliminated or significantly reduced.

KMA president Andrew Were said the State must prove that the country is prepared to handle a potential surge in the transmissions resulting from reopening.

Dr Chibanzi Mwachonda, the secretary-general of the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union, said the reality is that the country still cannot let its health care system get overwhelmed.

“This explains the cautious reopening of the economy. If we open completely at this time, we would be going into the unknown,” Dr Mwachonda said.

For the country, the partial reopening now means even a more concerted effort to avoid community transmissions, up the health surveillance programme, and increase the testing capacity, a function that has lagged in the last two months.

Not out of the woods yet

“It is a fairly cautious reopening as is expected. The President made it clear that we are not out of the 

woods yet. What we are seeing may just be the flattening of the first curve, which is related to only five counties. We do not know about the other 42 counties…” said Dr Githinji Gitahi, the Group Chief Executive Officer, Amref Health Africa.

But what is more worrying, especially for the counties, is their inability to conduct testing, contact tracing, and Covid-19 mapping— leaving everyone to their own devices, and second guessing where the second wave of infections could come from.

For instance, some counties have closed their isolation centres, saying they are out of danger.

“Just how will we know we have a second wave of infections?” Poses Ndung’u Wainaina, the executive-director of the International Centre for Policy and Conflict.

Countries like the UK, South Kora, Spain, Australia, France, Poland, and Netherlands are currently experiencing a second wave of reinfections, which has seen parts of their cities go back to lock downs.

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