NAIROBI — The sudden increase in COVID-19 positive cases and fatalities that has been witnessed in Kenya lately has raised concern amid a looming second wave.
Ministry of health officials said East Africa’s largest economy was staring at a potential crisis given the consistent spike in the virus caseload and deaths that had been reported across all the 47 counties. Mutahi Kagwe, cabinet secretary in the Ministry of Health, said the positivity rate had jumped from four to 12 percent in less than three weeks since relaxation of containment measures that include reopening of bars and schools commenced. “There is no doubt we are headed for a second wave of infections as positive cases and deaths continue to rise on a daily basis since relaxation of some containment measures began,” Kagwe said at a briefing in Nairobi on Sunday.
He said that projections developed by local epidemiologists were pointing at a dire situation unless leaders, citizens and business owners adhered strictly to public health protocols meant to contain the pandemic. “There is no sign of the retreat of the virus. The virus is spreading fast in rural counties including those that were on the verge of being declared coronavirus-free,” said Kagwe.”Experts are saying that wanton violation of containment protocols is wholly to blame for the spike,” he added. The cabinet secretary said the government could reimpose stringent measures aimed at containing spread of coronavirus like closure of bars, learning institutions and restricted movement amid risk of a second wave.
Kenya’s COVID-19 caseload reached 45,076 on Monday, after 195 out of 1,852 samples tested positive for the virus as the cumulative tests hit 623,828 and fatalities rose to 839. The ministry of health said total recoveries stood at 32,084 after 227 patients including 146 under home-based care program and 81 admitted in hospitals were declared coronavirus free. According to the health ministry, a total of 1,084 COVID-19 patients are currently admitted in hospitals while 2,480 with mild or no symptoms were domiciled in the home-based care program.
Patrick Amoth, acting director-general for Health Services said that Kenya was bracing for a second wave as the positivity rate rose from an average of 3.5 percent in late September to the current 12 percent. “The next couple of weeks will be crucial in determining the overall pandemic’s trajectory, especially our ability to suppress infections and failure which could lead to a second wave that would strain existing health facilities,” said Amoth.
Kenya is among ten African countries carrying the bulk of COVID-19 caseload in the continent amid warnings from health experts that laxity in the enforcement of public health protocols could trigger a second wave of infections. Githinji Gitahi, CEO of Nairobi-based Amref Health Africa said that robust uptake of handwashing, wearing of face coverings and social distancing was imperative to avert a second wave of coronavirus transmissions in Kenya.