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Survey: Safety guidelines will avert 11,000 Covid deaths

By Clifford Akumu
Thursday, August 13th, 2020
Health Cabinet secretary Mutahi Kagwe. Photo/Gerald Ithana
In summary

Kenya could avert more than 11,000 Covid-19 deaths if its population adheres to face mask-wearing and social distancing by December 2020, according to new projections.

A near universal adherence to mask-wearing and social distancing mandates in the country could reduce the death toll from an estimated 16,510 to 5,124 by December.

Kenya is among five African countries projected to record the largest number of Covid-19 deaths this year. 

Others include South Africa, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The Covid-19 projection for sub-Saharan Africa, conducted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME ) at the University of Washington, notes that ignoring such efforts could erode the gains.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe has during his daily Covid-19 warned of the increasing number of deaths urging leaders not to lower their guard in adhering to the public health measures.

Worrying numbers

So far, the country has recorded close to 29,000 infections and 456 deaths.

Across the continent, the measures could prevent up to 73,085 deaths during the same period.

Consequently, even in this best-case scenario, the pandemic would still pose a challenge to the continent, with an estimated total of 85,688 deaths up from 15,000 deaths recorded in mid-July.

Relaxing social distancing measures and failure to wear masks could lead to rise in Covid-19 deaths to 180,273 in Africa, adds the institute.

“It is encouraging that in many sub-Saharan African countries, early mandates to practice social distancing and limit travel, mitigated the spread of Covid-19,”said IHME director Dr Christopher Murray.

He adds, “These new projections suggest such mandates must continue to play a critical role, and that people in all countries should wear masks regularly.

As we have seen in the United States, the price of loosening these mitigation efforts prematurely could be significant increases in new cases and deaths.”

South Africa’s death toll during same period could be reduced from 41,402 to 31,529.

The institute’s modelling of the pandemic draws on reporting from African ministries of health as well as data characterising the virus’s spread from countries around the world.

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