Covid-19: The uninvited guest that brought the world to a standstill - Beaking Kenya News

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Friday, 25 December 2020

Covid-19: The uninvited guest that brought the world to a standstill

 

On March 13, Kenya reported its first Covid-19 case after a 27-year-old woman who travelled from the US via London tested positive.

The government moved swiftly to identify and isolate a number of people who had come into contact with the first case.

On March 15, Cabinet Secretary for Health, Mutahi Kagwe, announced that two people who had sat next to the initial patient on the aircraft in transit from the United States had also tested positive for the virus.

On the same day, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced a raft of measures that were aimed at preventing the further spread of the disease.

They included the closure of all learning intuitions, restriction of travel from any countries with any case of Coronavirus, work from home policy for public servants and business people, banning of public gatherings among others.

Nine months later, Kenya is still among countries across the world battling with the second wave of the deadly disease.

Coronavirus disease well known as Covid-19 is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus strain.

It can affect breathing systems like lungs and airways and spreads from person to person through germs that end up on the hands and on surfaces when infected persons are coughing or sneezing.

Many people recover after experiencing a period of sickness lasting between 1 – 2 weeks, but some people are at higher risk and may get seriously ill from COVID 19 coronavirus.

The disease affects people differently with the majority of those infected developing mild to moderate illness and recover without hospitalisation.

It is associated with fever, dry cough and tiredness.

The less common symptoms include aches and pains, sore throat, diarrhoea, conjunctivitis, headache, loss of taste or smell, a rash on the skin, or discolouration of fingers or toes.

HOW IT SPREADS

The virus that causes Covid-19 is mainly transmitted through droplets generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or exhales.

These droplets are too heavy to hang in the air and quickly fall on floors or surfaces.

You can be infected by breathing in the virus if you are within close proximity of someone who has Covid-19, or by touching a contaminated surface and then your eyes, nose or mouth.

PEOPLE AT RISK

According to Kenya’s Ministry of Health, those aged above 70 years are at more risk of contracting the disease.

Those with underlying health conditions like cancer, asthma, diabetes, heart diseases, HIV/AIDS or on medication that weakens immune system are also at high risk of infection.

INVESTIGATION

Early cases of Covid-19 were linked to a meat market in Wuhan, China, but investigations have not found samples of the coronavirus in carcasses.

WHO is currently conducting an investigation into the origins of the pandemic.

The organisation said the investigation will start in Wuhan, the city where the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 was first identified before expanding to the rest of China and beyond its borders.

An international team of epidemiologists, virologists and researchers with expertise in public health, animal health and food safety will lead the WHO’s Covid-19 investigation.

Though most researchers have argued the virus originated in bats, how it jumped to humans still remains a mystery.

The major task for investigation teams however is crippled with the current political situation between China and the United States.

 US President Donald Trump has been “calling it a China virus and the Chinese government has been trying to do everything to prove that it is not a China virus.

As a result of the political game, crucial details about research underway in China have not been made public.

Huanan meat and animal market in Wuhan which many of the earliest people diagnosed with Covid-19 had visited is the main focus for the investigations.

Though early investigations sampled frozen animal carcasses at the market found no evidence of the virus, environmental samples taken mostly from drains and sewage tested positive.

Many of the initial patients were stall owners, market employees, or regular visitors to this market.

WHO teams are expected to investigate the wild and farmed animals sold at the market, including foxes, raccoons (Procyon lotor) and sika deer (Cervus nippon).

They will also investigate other markets in Wuhan, and trace the animals’ journeys through China and across borders.

The investigators will prioritize animals that are known to be susceptible to the virus, such as cats and mink.

THE SITUATION

Many families across the globe have been left in agony after losing their loved ones to the disease.

To make it worse, many were denied a chance for closure and burial of their relatives after governments placed tight burial protocols.

Currently, the disease has left over 68. 165 million people infected across 220 countries in the world with over 43.2 million having recovered and over 1. 557 million others dead.

In Kenya as of December 10, some 90,305 cases had been confirmed with 1,568 deaths and 71,254 recoveries.

Total cumulative tests stood at 952,134.

As of June 26, some 456 foreigners had contracted the disease in the country.

The number of those who have contracted and those who have succumbed of late remains unknown as the ministry did not respond to numerous calls or text messages.

As at early December over 2,207 health care workers have also contracted the disease.

Over 40 others have succumbed including 13 doctors, 28 nurses and 9 clinicians.

Doctors Stephen Mogusu, Robert Ayisi, Doreen Adisa, Said Omar, Ndambuki Mboloi, Faith Kanjiru, Jackline Njoroge, Daniel Alushala, Hudson Inyangala, Vladimir Schuckin, Emaram Ashraf, Ajo Were and Adisa Lugalika are among those who have succumbed.

The late Samuel Karanja, Mohamed Hatimy, Peter Chomba, Cyrus Mbembe, Kennedy Mainya and former Hells Gate Ward MCA John Njenga are among politicians who have not been spared by the disease.

The disease has had an adverse impact on Kenya’s economy with over 1.72 million people losing their jobs by June when the country imposed coronavirus-induced lockdown that led to layoffs and pay cuts.

According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, the number of people in employment fell to 15.87 million between April and the end of June compared to 17.59 million in the previous quarter.

Young people were the hardest hit by job cuts compared to their counterparts aged above 35 years in an economic setting that is plagued by a hiring freeze on the back of sluggish corporate earnings.

According to the data, this is a major blow to jobseekers, especially the close to one million young people who graduate from various educational institutions every year.

The Federation of Kenya Employers with membership from 1,900 companies said 80 per cent of job opportunities that had been secured between 2015 and 2019 had been lost.

 “We cannot ascertain for how long this damage will last. We need to be prepared to manage businesses within the Covid- 19 environment,” executive director Jacqueline Mugo said.

She said since it is projected by January 2021 over 2 million jobs would have been lost, businesses must quickly adapt to the new normal and come up with strategies for survival.

Some of the worst-hit sectors include tourism, transport, hospitality, and education.

GOVERNMENT RESPONSE

On March 25, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced nation-wide dusk to dawn curfew from 7 pm to 5 am.

The head of State also unveiled measures to buffer Kenyans against financial hardships arising movement restrictions associated with the coronavirus crisis.

This included 100% tax relief to Kenyans earning Sh24,000 and below, pay as you earn (PAYE) reduction from a maximum of 30 to 25 per cent.

Other measures were the reduction of the turnover tax rate from three per to one per cent for all micro, small and medium enterprises, reduction of resident income tax to 25 per cent, making available Sh10 billion to vulnerable groups including the elderly and orphans, among others.

Uhuru also temporarily suspended the listing of loan defaulters for of any person, micro, small and medium enterprise and corporate entities whose loan account was in arrears effective April 1, 2020.

He announced the reduction of VAT from 16 to 14 per cent effective April 1, 2020.

The government also moved to increase the allocation of funds for health care, along with other fiscal adjustments to the economy.

About Sh1 billion from the Universal Health Coverage kitty was channelled to the employment of new health workers to help combat the spread of Covid-19.

Uhuru and Deputy President William Ruto took an 80 per cent pay-cut, all Cabinet Secretaries and Chief Administrative secretaries took a 30 per cent pay-cut and Principal Secretaries took a 20 per cent cut.

According to the directive, all state and public officers aged 50 and above with pre-existing medical conditions were directed to take leave or work from home.

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