This is an example Kenya’s ability to deal with Covid-19. Each day 300,000 people board the Likoni ferries to get to and return from Mombasa, the county with the second highest number of Covid-19 cases in Kenya. This would be a hot spot for transmission of the virus. Sanitizing spray booths have been installed with a disinfecting spray plus taking the temperature of everyone passing through. Passengers are also required to wear a mask.


Correction: In my Monday post on Totto-chan, I indicated that Ruth Stern had passed away. Two readers corrected me to say that now in her 90s she is still living at Kendal Retirement Community near Philadelphia. I apologize for this mistake.


Current count in Kenya as of Thursday, April 16: 234 confirmed cases, 11 deaths, and 53 recovered. This is an increase in the last week of 50 confirmed cases, 4 deaths, and 40 recovered. 10,331people have been tested for the virus. Kenya has 5 cases per million people while the United States has 2,047 cases per million people. Deaths of Kenyans living in the United States: 5 (compared to the 11 deaths in Kenya).


Coronavirus Outbreak out of Control in US (read here) from The Elephant, a Kenyan online magazine. Author Jina Moore (see here), former East Africa Bureau Chief for The New York Times, “spent more than six months covering Ebola in West Africa, two of them in the ‘hot zone’ of Liberia. Global press coverage spurred clichéd response back home in the USA, from negative stereotypes about culture and hygiene to irrational panic. This is a piece of satire that imagines covering America’s global health emergency in the same way the US looked at one ‘over there’—revealing both the absurdity of imperial exceptionalism and the unwelcome fact that the weaknesses of the American ‘superpower’ are not so different from those in so-called ‘s**hole countries.’ ”

Here is one quote from the article:

It’s spreading like wildfire from person to person,” said Papi Kabongo, a bus driver in Kinshasa whose uncle, Jean-Jacques Muyembe, discovered Ebola in 1976. “There are clear, simple, easy things we know can help, but people there don’t listen. They don’t even wash their hands!

If you as an American are offended by this article, that’s the point.


In early April, Kenyan health officials announced that if nothing were done, by April 6 there would be 1000 cases of Covid-19 in Kenya. On April 6, Kenya had 156 recorded cases, 844 short of the prediction. On April 8, Chief Administrative Secretary Mercy Mwangangi said, The government still stood by earlier projections that the country could have 5,000 cases by mid-April and 10,000 by end of April. On April 15, Kenya had 225 recorded cases, 4,775 short of the prediction. Were these alarmist predictions just a means of “scaring” Kenyans to follow the various rules to contain the virus? Perhaps, but even in the US the predictions of 100,000 to 250,000 deaths from the virus are continually being scaled back. See FiveThirtyEight’s A Comic Strip Tour Of The Wild World Of Pandemic Modeling (here) on the impossibility of predicting the trajectory of the Covid-19 pandemic.

One possibility is that people are not being tested. In Kenyan’s case this is inaccurate. Everyone, who has been in self-isolation or quarantine because of contact with a positive caseincluding those without any symptoms, has been tested. The result is a very low rate of positive infection at 2.5 percent. Currently Kenya is testing 700 to 800 people per day, but the country is gearing up to be able to test 35,000 people per day. This week they began testing all health care workers in the country and the Port of Mombasa workers where a number of positive cases have been reported.

This visualization shows where Kenya stands in comparison to other countries after their first 100 Covid-19 cases. There are only a few counties that have a lower rate of increase in cases than Kenya. Most have substantially more. Fourteen days after the first record of at least 100 cases, Kenya had 234 cases while the United States after 14 days had 7,739 cases. Note that this chart is a log chart.

Some readers have asked that the data be displayed based on population. This visualization is after a country reaches one case per million people. Kenya is still near the lower end of the countries in the world. After 17 days Kenya had 4.9 cases per million of population, while the United States after 17 days had 162.9 cases per million of population.

In summary, both these charts indicate that Kenya is doing much better than most other countries in the world including the United States and European countries. This is also true of the other Sub-Saharan African countries. As of yesterday only 23 of the 55 countries in Africa had recorded a total of even 100 cases. Two small African countries still have yet to record their first case.

Let us look at South Africa, the African country with the second highest number of cases (after Egypt) at 2605 on its 29th day from recording at least one case per million of population. In other words, this is the worst case in Sub-Saharan Africa. This high number was due to early introduction of Covid-19 into the country by tourists and wealthy white South Africans returning from visiting European countries.

This is the chart for South Africa per million of population up to day 31. Note how initially until day 11, the increase in cases mirrored many other countries. Then on day 12, after vigorous action by the South African Government, the number of cases leveled off so that South Africa total cases per million people became much lower than many other countries. South Africa has been effective in containing Covid-19.

Here are comments from a Guardian article on April 10, Coronavirus in South Africa: The lull before the surge?, by Andrew Harding, its Africa correspondent  (see here):

During the past fortnight South Africa has seen a dramatic, and unexpected slow-down in the daily rate of coronavirus infections[emphasis added]

But – as the country and the continent continue to brace for the potentially devastating impact of the pandemic – doctors are struggling to explain what’s going on.

The beds are ready. Wards have been cleared. Non-emergency operations rescheduled. Ambulances kitted out. Medical teams have been rehearsing non-stop for weeks. Managers have spent long hours in online meetings drawing up, and tweaking their emergency plans.

But so far, and against most predictions, South Africa’s hospitals remain quiet, the anticipated “tsunami” of infections that many experts here have been waiting for has yet to materialise.

As of yesterday, South Africa had only 48 deaths, a rate of less than 2 percent of those infected. There have been 903 recoveries, a rate of 35 per cent. For comparison, the United States has had 34,617 deaths, a rate of 5 percent, and 57,508 recoveries, a rate of 8.5 percent.


Here is a contrary perspective.


Here is the current case load in nearby African countries (plus the United States for comparison) as of Thursday, April 16. The increase is compared to the previous week’s total number of cases. The total population of these 9 countries is 351 million people, while the total population of the United States is 333 million people.

Country Cases Cases Increase Deaths Recovered
4/16/2020 4/9/2020 4/16/2020 4/16/2020
Burundi 5 3 2 1 0
Ethiopia 92 56 36 3 15
Kenya 234 184 50 11 53
Rwanda 138 113 25 0 60
Somalia 80 12 68 5 2
South Sudan 4 3 1 0 0
Sudan 32 15 17 2 2
Tanzania 94 25 69 4 11
Uganda 56 53 3 0 20
Total: Eastern Africa 735 464 271 26 161
United States 677,570 468,566 209,004 34,617 57,508


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David Zarembka

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