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A worker walks outside the coronavirus isolation facility at the Mbagathi Hospital in Nairobi .Photo credit [Njeri Mwangi/Reuters]

Covid-19 Kenya: Is it fear or obedience?

March 31, 2020

By Samuel Ouma

A worker walks outside the coronavirus isolation facility at the Mbagathi Hospital in Nairobi .Photo credit [Njeri Mwangi/Reuters]
A worker walks outside the coronavirus isolation facility at the Mbagathi Hospital in Nairobi .Photo credit [Njeri Mwangi/Reuters]

Kenya is one of the countries grappling to contain the spread of coronavirus, a dreaded disease that is wreaking havoc on the entire world.

Fifty coronavirus cases and one death have been confirmed in the East African country since the first case was reported on March 13. In order to curb the spread of the virus, the government of Kenya has put in place safety measures the latest being dusk to dawn curfew.

The local authority had banned public gatherings; schools, pubs, churches  and large markets had been closed, sports events and political rallies halted and international flights in and out the country suspended.

Kenyans have also been urged to work from home while keeping social distance, minimizing movements and practising high level of hygiene by washing their hands regularly using alcohol-based sanitizer or soap and water.

Cashless transaction has been encouraged after the mobile operators and local banks lowered the online transaction fees. Sending amount less than Ksh.1, 000 ($10) using M-PESA, a service provided by the dominant Telco in the country, Safaricom is absolutely free for the next two months among many others.

Number of passengers using a single vehicle at a time has been limited. A 14-seater vehicle is required to carry 8 passengers, 25-seaters to carry 15 and buses whose seating capacity is 30 and above is allowed to have 60-per cent sitting capacity.

While issuing updates on the virus on Monday, the Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe also asked those dwelling in Urban particularly Nairobi to halt all their travel plans to rural areas. He said urban to rural movements will expose the elders to the contagious disease.

In addition, those from the upcountry were told not to visit the capital until the situation is contained. Thirty four out of 50 cases are in Nairobi as per the report released by the minister.

“Those who stay in Nairobi should not travel up country during this period, statistics indicate that the elderly Kenyan population lives in the rural areas, we would like to urge those who stay in Nairobi to stay in Nairobi,” He said.

Something mysterious caught the attention of our team, which is in Nairobi. Our reporter on Tuesday toured the streets of the capital and the revelations will leave you in shock.

The ever busy streets were devoid of people and many shops were closed. The hooting of vehicles and loud voices of touts filled the air as the available people try to keep a distance from each other. All banks located in the city were opened, but the customers’ seats were half empty.

The next stop was at Gikomba market, Kenya’s largest hub for second hand clothes. The situation was more less the same. Many stalls were empty and the young guys who stand along the corridors hawking clothes were countable.

These are some of the responses from the business men and women from the market.

“Demands for our products are low, we hope the solution for this problem will be found and everything will be back to normal,” said kids’ attires seller.

His colleague added, “People have stayed away because of fear of attracting the virus. We have decided to take risk in order to feed our families and pay our bills.”

“This coronavirus is horrifying, the cases are creasing everyday and we don’t know who is next,” noted a fishmonger.

There were numerous spots for hand washing instituted by the entrepreneurs.

Kenyan neighbours Uganda yesterday declared a total lockdown for 14 days to control the spread of covid-19 which has been reported in 199 nations causing thousands deaths.

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