Ventilator developed by 16 Kenyatta University students from the engineering, nursing, medicine and pharmacy schools. All parts were sourced within Kenya and can be constructed at a cost of $5,000. They are patenting the machine. It needs to be thoroughly tested and certified by the government before 50 ventilators per week will be constructed.


Current count in Kenya as of Thursday, April 23: 320 confirmed cases, 14 deaths, and 89 recovered. This is an increase in the last week of 86 confirmed cases, 3 deaths, and 36 recovered. 15,792 people have been tested for the virus. 56% of the positive Covid-19 cases in Kenya are asymptomatic. Kenya has 6 cases per million people while the United States has 2,678 cases per million people.


First case of Covid-19 in Homa Bay County: Eight people living in Nairobi hired a driver to carry the body of a dead person in a casket to be buried in Homa Bay County near Lake Victoria. They had a death certificate. They were allowed to go through the blockade that keeps people in Nairobi from leaving the city where the majority of the Covid-19 cases are. This restriction is to keep the virus from spreading to the countryside. When the group reached their village in Homa Bay, the neighbors came to grieve for the deceased. The mourners found that there was no body and the death certificate was fake. They notified the police who arrested all nine people and put them in 2 week isolation. They were tested for the virus and the driver, although he showed no symptoms, was found to be positive and was put in quarantine. Then four days later another group of 12 people escaped from Nairobi supposedly to attend the same burial. They were caught before they reached the village and also placed in isolation. After they leave isolation, all will be charged with illegally leaving Nairobi. If this circumventing of the restrictions continues, the closing of the boundaries around Nairobi and the other 3 hot spot counties on the coast will not be effective and the virus will spread upcountry. 


Ramping up testing in Kenya: Kenya has been quickly ramping its ability to test people for Covid-19. They have always been testing those in isolation and quarantine. Recently they started testing health care workers and people at hot spots such as Mombasa Port Authority where 7 cases and 2 deaths have already been recorded. As of yesterday, Kenya had tested 15,792 people with 320 positive cases or 2 per cent of the total. If you think this is a small number of tests, note that Kenya has conducted about 46 tests to find one positive case, while the United States has conducted only 5.3 tests to find one positive case. In other words Kenya is testing at a rate 9.7 times the rate in the US.

Formerly Kenya was capable of processing only about 300 cases per day. It then ramped up to 500 to 600 cases per day and is now doing over 1000 cases per day. A second center for processing the tests has opened at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in nearby (to us) Eldoret to process the cases in all of western Kenya. Kenya now has enough testing machines and supplies, but the issue is qualified people to conduct the tests and the logistics to get the tests to the testing centers. The plan is to test 250,000 people by the end of June.

The conventional wisdom is that, because there are so many unrecorded cases in the general population, as more testing is done the number of cases will increase geometrically. In Kenya this has not been the case. Here are the weekly averages of confirmed cases:

Date                             # of cases             Total cases

March 13 to 19                      7                             7

March 20 to 26                    24                           31

March 27 to April 2            79                         110

April 3 to 9                          74                         184

April 10 to 16                      50                         234

April 17 to 23                      86                         320

For weeks it has been predicted by numerous sources that the number of positive cases in Kenya will geometrically explode. Since this has not happened to date, the virus has not yet escaped significantly into the general population via community transmission. So far about half of the positive cases have been imported from overseas traveling and the rest via local transmissions. This would imply that the tracking system for positive cases with isolation/quarantine has been effective. The Kenyan Health Ministry has 63,350 community health volunteers throughout the country “to help in active case finding, contact tracing, and community surveillance.”


Another negative projection for Africa: According to a report from modeling by the Imperial College London for the UN Economic Commission for Africa, Africa under the worst case scenario would see 1.2 billion Africans out of a total 1.3 billion Africans catch the virus and up to 3.3 million people would die. Under this projection, Gladys and I would have more than a 90% chance of catching Covid-19 and, since we are both elderly and have controlled cases of diabetes and high blood pressure, we are likely to be among those 3.3 million dead. I am not worried about myself because I think these estimates are preposterous.

According to the best case scenario in this study with “intense social distancing”, Africa would have 122 million infections and 330,000 deaths. You can read their extremely negative report here. According to the article, Experts have said Africa is weeks behind Europe in the pandemic and the rate of increase has looked alarmingly similar.” In my Report from Kenya last week (see here), Kenya and South Africa are Containing Covid-19, I showed that this is factually incorrect.

This is the current data for Kenya, South Africa, Italy, and the United States. Click on the image to pop out and enlarge. Also remember that this is a log scale so that the numerical differences are much larger – I can’t display the linear graph because the Kenya and South Africa totals are so low they can’t be seen off the bottom line of the graph. Notice that while the US and Italy rose exponentially, South Africa (after day 11) and Kenya (after day 3) did not. You can play with these figures yourself here.


Here is the current case load in nearby African countries (plus the United States for comparison) as of Thursday, April 23. 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.

South Sudan44000
Total: Eastern Africa145373571857280
United States886,442677,570208,87250,23685,922


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David Zarembka

Phone 254 (0)726 590 783
Reports from Kenya: