Why rising Covid rates may see curfew tighten

Kenyans are likely to face another extended period of Covid–19 restrictions following a jump in the number of infections.

The Ministry of Health yesterday said the country was in the midst of a third wave of the coronavirus as the positivity rate climbed to 14 per cent. Yesterday the country recorded 713 new cases of Covid-19 out of a sample size of 5,230. This raised the number of cases to 110,356.

“We are about to start another difficult period. But having overcome the first two waves, we can also overcome this one. Today’s positivity rate at 14 per cent is the highest since the second phase in late November 2020,” said Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe.

The spike in infections means it is likely that President Uhuru Kenyatta will tomorrow extend containment measures, including a dusk-to-dawn curfew that has been in place for almost one year to the day when Kenya reported its first Covid-19 case.

Mr Kagwe asked Kenyans to brace themselves for stricter measures. “It’s now time to start looking back at some of the measures we have taken on whether to make some mandatory requirements of the population.”

He added: “Therefore, as we debate this matter today and tomorrow, the President will be speaking to us on Friday and by that day we would have agreed with our scientists and immunologists to see where we are, going forward, and the measures that we must take.”

Infection rate

The country’s push to ease the curfew is coming at a time the monthly infection rate fell to 5,200 cases in February from 12,633 in December. That data informed the government’s decision to extend the curfew to March 12.

A situational analysis report of the pandemic dated March 1 shows the first week of November as the start of the second peak, with 9,399 cases reported. On fatalities, the second peak was during the second week of November with 116 fatalities.

In the last two weeks the positivity rate has rarely dipped below five per cent. Instead, it has fluctuated, hitting 9.9 per cent on February 28. One of the conditions the government had set for the review of curfew is that the infection rate must be below 5 per cent.

The CS appealed to Kenyans to continue adhering to the measures set by the Ministry of Health and World Health Organisation. “In some other countries, the third wave has had devastating effects and we hope that is not what we will experience in our nation.”

With an increase in the number of patients in need of ventilators and oxygen, Kagwe urged Kenyans to be more careful so that the cases do not overrun the healthcare system.

He told Kenyans to stop being misled about the Covid-19 vaccine, adding that when the time for mass roll-out begins, they should not be hesitant to get the jab.

“Vaccination is a key intervention that could rapidly interrupt Covid-19 transmissions and reduce the burden of the disease and deaths from the pandemic. I can confirm that the country has no time to waste in the fight against this pandemic,” he said.

Team established

Kagwe disclosed that a team and structures had been established to deal with the vaccination process countrywide “to ensure transparency, accountability, and data building so that everyone will be clear on how the deployment of the vaccine in the country happened.”

He said the new structure would comprise the county Covid-19 vaccine steering committees, the county Covid-19 vaccine deployment and vaccination task-force, and the sub-county Covid-19 vaccine deployment and vaccination committees.

Council of Governors chair Martin Wambora urged Kenyans to be careful and work with the ministry to help curb further spread of the virus.

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