Africa must prepare to tackle Covid-19

By Editorial Team
Monday, March 23rd, 2020
Members of the public wash hands at a matatu terminus in Murang’a town. The county water company has established 200 hand washing points in the area. Photo/PD/Rebecca Wangari

The World Health Organisation has expressed concern about Africa’s preparedness in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic that has claimed more than 13,000 lives globally.

“Africa should wake up. My continent should wake up,” said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, an Ethiopian.

At home, Health Cabinet secretary Mutahi Kagwe has also warned Kenyans to prepare for tough times ahead and made a strong pitch for what he called citizen responsibility. 

Ghebreyesus’ fears are informed by the fact that African health systems are weak and could be overwhelmed if the virus, which is on its initial stages, were to hit the continent on a larger scale.

Kagwe has sounded the alarm that evidence from other countries indicate the number of infected persons increases dramatically in the second week following confirmation of the first case. 

“Consequently, the next two weeks are extremely critical for this country,” he said during a press briefing.

This effectively means that the real battle against the respiratory disease is ahead and Kenyans should brace themselves accordingly.

As High Court judge Weldon Korir pointed out when he declined to allow a petition that would have seen Kagwe summoned to court, the country is at war with the Cabinet Secretary as a “general at the front.”

It is apparent that measures to prevent the spread of the virus would have far-reaching ramifications on various sectors, mainly public transport, entertainment, trade, health with some state organs allocating more resources to the war.

On transport, Kagwe has ordered public service vehicles to reduce the number of passengers.

It was directed that 14-seater matatus carry a maximum number of eight passengers; 25-seaters a maximum of 15 and 30-seaters and above to maintain 60 per cent maximum seating capacity. 

This would also apply to the Standard Gauge Railway and commuter train services. 

It should be emphasised that the anti-corona fight is expected to test our moral strength. There should not be a temptation to exploit a grievous situation.

As President Uhuru Kenyatta warned, businesses must not exploit the situation to increase prices of essential goods. Operators in the transport sector must also heed the call. 

Even critically, resources allocated for the war should be used prudently in a manner devoid of corruption.

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