A Coronavirus in Kenya case has been reported by the Ministry of Health. But, the bad news is that coronavirus seems to be spreading, if slowly, in Africa, with new cases in Togo and Cameroon. And cases in the giants, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, and South Africa. As of March 10, eleven countries in Africa had reported cases.
The good news is that the number of cases remains remarkably small, despite the fact that China is Kenya and Africa’s largest trading partner. The index cases in Africa, however, appear mostly to be travelers from Europe.
At the same time, what worries me the most is the weak public health systems. Not to mention, teeming cities, and pervasive poverty, a reasonable assumption is that coronavirus would spread rapidly in Africa. There is no real consensus as to why this has not happened.
Hypotheses include the apparently successful efforts by African states to control and monitor travelers from virus hot spots. And, the fact that Africa’s young population makes it less vulnerable to the virus. Or, conversely, that weak public health systems likely miss much of the instance of the disease.
Whatever the reasons, unlike past outbreaks of Ebola, the presence of large numbers of virus victims is not obvious in Africa’s medical facilities or on the street.
Is Coronavirus In Kenya Case Real?
Of course, the Coronavirus in Kenya case has been confirmed in its first announcement. Whereby, the Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe on Friday said the patient is a 27-year-old Kenyan who traveled from the US via London.
Kagwe in his statement said that although the patient, a Kenyan, is stable and eating, she will not be released from the hospital until she is confirmed negative. At the moment, the woman is at Kenyatta National Hospital’s Infectious Disease Unit.
The government says it has traced all contacts the patient made since her arrival. “We have done all the contact tracing and have all the names. Including the people who sat next to her on the flights she took,” he said.
Consequently, Kenya has suspended all travel outside the country unless necessary. In addition, public gatherings are also suspended, including all inter-schools events.
What Next for Coronavirus in Kenya?
According to the CS, every level 4 and 5 hospitals in the country will have an isolation ward funded by the Ministry of Health and the World Bank. Whereas, County Governments have also been urged to carry out regular public sensitization on the Novel Coronavirus Disease.
Additionally, CS Kagwe urged Kenyans to remain calm, noting that there’s no need for panic or worry provided people abide by the measures put in place.
“This is not a time to assign blame but one to join hands to ensure this pandemic does not tear through our country. This is not the time to make abnormal prices,” he warned pharmacies and business people.
Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia, who was present at the press conference, said all public transport operators were summoned on March 10 for a special stakeholder meeting. Saying that the government will be conducting training at bus stops from 10 am to 4 pm. Specifically, that will involve all bus drivers, matatu drivers, and conductors.
“Public transport carries the vast majority of our people…more than 90 percent. That is why we are giving it special focus.”
Public Health Act Rules
Due to the presence of the Novel Coronavirus case, all public gatherings, rallies, crusades, and meetings of a national nature have all been banned.
This includes the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) rallies. However, churches will continue to operate as usual as long they provide hand sanitizers to their congregants.
Interschool activities like drama, music festivals, and sports have been also been banned. Following the announcement, CS Kagwe has invoked the Public Health Act.
The Public Health Act requires Kenyans to:
- Maintain a distance of at least 1 meter from persons who are coughing
- Those coughing and have fever and difficulty in breathing should stay at home
- All public gatherings, and events that have large gatherings
- Suspension of interschool events but schools will remain open
- Public transport operators will be required to regularly clean their vehicles and provide sanitizers to passengers
- Suspension of all visits to prisons for the next 30 days
- Kenyans have been warned against spreading misinformation
- Unless absolutely necessary, traveling to affected countries have been banned
What is Coronavirus?
The Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), whose epicenter was in Wuhan, China, has now killed nearly 5,000 people and infected more than 130,000 worldwide as on Friday. Not forgetting, it has spread to more than 120 countries across the globe.
Unlike the New Novel Coronavirus, the main Coronavirus was first identified in the 1960s, but to date, we still don’t know where it comes from. Whereby, it gets its name from its crown-like shape.
Sometimes, but not often, a coronavirus can infect both animals and humans. And having said that, on 31 December 2019, WHO was alerted to several cases of pneumonia in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China.
The virus did not match any other known virus. However, this raised concerns because when a virus is new, we do not know how it affects people. Please read and learn more about What is Coronavirus?
Still, the economic impact of the disease is likely to be worse in Africa than elsewhere. The disease’s negative impact on the world economy has already translated into a decline in demand.
Especially, for the primary products that Africa exports. Such as oil from Angola and Nigeria and rare minerals from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for example.
Nigeria’s finance minister is recalculating the national budget to take into account the fall in international oil prices. Equally important, South Africa has entered a recession, aided, if not driven by, the global impact of the coronavirus.
In reality, Tourism is also down. As international travelers stay home, hurting the economies of South Africa and Kenya, among others. Investors, confronted with a litany of unknowns about the disease and its consequences, are fleeing from emerging markets. At least for the time being.
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