Corona is no joke, says Kagwe as cases hit 110
Kenyans should brace themselves for tough times ahead, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe warned yesterday as the number of people infected with coronavirus surged past 100 while two more patients succumbed to the disease.
In his most candid admission yet of the grim situation the country is facing because of the rapid spread of the disease, the minister painted a worrisome picture in the coming days, sounding the alarm that coronavirus cases were going to rise, a situation that could force the government to impose more stringent restrictive measures.
“This number is going to rise and will do so exponentially. The virus is moved by you and I, therefore we need to change behaviour if we are to limit transmissions.
Please do not wait to hear of death near you, for you to realise that this disease is not a joke,” said Kagwe.
The statistics, he added, are now showing that at least a third of the infections were local, given that 40 of those who were tested yesterday had not travelled outside the country. By yesterday 110 people had tested positive.
“The situation is getting worse. It is high time that we as a people take the directives given by the government seriously, maintain hygiene by sanitising and keeping social distance,” said the CS.
The minister, who appeared angry with the carefree attitude that Kenyans were displaying towards the pandemic with some mocking the recovering cases and branding the government’s efforts as mere public relations (PR) stunts, warned that those using social media to belittle the State’s efforts would be arrested.
“Why would the government conspire with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to stage a PR stunt out of the current pandemic?” the CS posed.
He was alluding to adverse social media comments over the recovery of the first Corona patient Brenda Cherutich, who had a video chat with President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday.
In a no-holds-barred address at Afya House yesterday where he updated the country on the status of the pandemic, the CS warned those who claim that the spread of the disease is not as serious as the government is making it sound.
“Part of the disappointment is those who claim that they do not know anybody in their area, who has either died or been tested positive of the disease.
This is precisely the effort we are trying to make so that we do not hear of death or a positive case,” the apparently frustrated CS said.
The minister said the controversial mandatory quarantine was paying off going by yesterday’s developments. All the additional 29 cases were of individuals who were on forced into isolation in Nairobi.
Out of the new cases, three were quarantined at the Aga Khan University Hospital, 11 at Crowne Plaza Hotel at the airport, one each at Nairobi Hospital and Pride Inn Hotel while six were in other isolation facilities. The net effect is that their isolation had prevented interaction with the public and relatives.
“These are the people who would have travelled to their villages to stay with their next of kin, friends and even the aged,” Kagwe said.
Acting Director of Health Patrick Amoth, said 40 of those who have tested positive contracted the disease locally.
“This is a confirmation that the virus is here with us,” Amoth said even as it emerged that a 16-year-old was among the newly-infected.
Studies have indicated that elderly people and patients with existing medical conditions were the most vulnerable to the respiratory disease that has forced the government to impose a dawn-to-dusk curfew in the country.
The two patients who succumbed to the disease to bring the Corona toll to three were from Nairobi and Mombasa.
One of the deceased was a Kenya Airways (KQ) pilot, Major (rtd) David Kibati, while the other worked at Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), Ursula Buluma.
And in a mixture of fortunes, the CS announced that Kilifi Deputy Governor Gideon Saburi, who had to be put on forced quarantine two weeks ago after failing to isolate himself, had recovered fully from the disease.
The politician will be charged in court for allegedly failing to take precautions despite knowing his potential to infect others.
Saburi has been criticised for failing to adhere to a directive on 14-day self-quarantine after he returned from a trip to Germany and went ahead to attend public functions in the county.
“The Kilifi Deputy Governor has fully recovered after testing negative for the mandatory test three times ... however, he will still be charged under the Public Health Act,” Kagwe said.
Those in quarantine were warned to adhere to social distancing with the CS cautioning some of them who are said to be loitering out of the isolation centres before the expiry of the mandatory 14 days that they were risking infection if they are negative.
The government also announced stiffer measures to deal with the disease, include observing high standards of hygiene.
Kagwe urged Kenyans to avoid mass movement from Nairobi to upcountry destinations, saying by so doing they would be endangering lives of those in the rural parts.“The only people who should be allowed to travel are those transporting food stuff,” Kagwe said.
It will also be mandatory for commuters using matatus, tuk tuk and boda bodas to wear masks at all times. The CS said the government had made arrangements for mass production of masks, which will be affordable to Kenyans.