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We ignore rules on deadly coronavirus disease at own peril

By Editorial Team
Wednesday, March 25th, 2020
A woman wears a face mask amid concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus as she sits at a bus stop advertising the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics. Photo/AFP

The deadly coronavirus disease, which by yesterday had infected close to 400,000 and claimed 17,000 lives, is hitting the globe with apocalyptic devastation.

 Without a cure, humanity is at the mercy of the respiratory disease. Although governments, health experts and even individuals are sending out information on how to stay safe, some are not heeding it. This is unfortunate and reckless.

 Many Kenyans fall in this category of irresponsible people who are ignoring guidelines on taming the spread.

The consequences of a full-blown outbreak will be devastating, more so because of our vulnerable healthcare system.  

Why are some Kenyans ignoring the reality that the virus is here? There are already 25 confirmed cases and many more are in self-quarantine after coming into close contact with the infected. 

This business as usual attitude will be our undoing. Thousands are pouring into crowded places such as markets and jostling for crowded matatus and trains. Some are even going on with weddings and burials despite restrictions. 

Is this out of ignorance, impunity or the love for money? Whatever it is, this madness that is exposing Kenyans to the virus must stop. 

The government must now go beyond appeals for reason, which clearly eludes many, and resort to stricter enforcement, including targeted lockdowns in counties such as Siaya and Kilifi where there are fears of community exposure. 

The latest World Health Organisation warning that the coronavirus pandemic is accelerating is alarming, especially for Kenya and other African countries. 

But WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says it is still possible to change the trajectory, if countries adopt rigorous testing and contact-tracing strategies.

He, however, notes that measures put in place to slow the spread of the virus may have unintended consequences of exacerbating shortages of protective gear and the materials needed to make them. 

This is a reality many countries, including the developed ones, are grappling with.

It can get worse in our situation because of high unemployment levels, fragile economy and impunity.

Once again, we ask every Kenyan to embrace social distancing and other measures aimed at taming coronavirus spread. 

And to those who are obsessed with making profits at whatever cost, shame on you! As Health CS Mutahi Kagwe warned, this immorality will harm you, your families and country. Stop it!

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