https://res.cloudinary.com/devex/image/fetch/c_scale,f_auto,q_auto,w_720/https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/LoDzas9YcvoESqQkUefGL1PnVdF19GbWXjlG1meizididcbY-HpJ1cD3MoF3mJ0ccjv3VkMogNJ14rasCgMZFeeUQHxRhi3mPi0enhDHMMEi9o1QQCysqLvnboECiw5ihf_J08V7

Health workers walk after disinfecting a residence where Kenya’s first confirmed coronavirus patient was staying, in Rongai, near Nairobi, Kenya. Photo by: REUTERS / Baz Ratner. This illustrates the point that Kenyan health officials have been proactive from the first case.

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Current count in Kenya as of Thursday, May 7: 607 confirmed cases, 29 deaths, 197 recovered, and 28,002 people tested for the virus. This is an increase in the last week of 211 confirmed cases 12 deaths, 53 recovered, and 7,734 people tested (1105 per day). The increases in cases have occurred mostly in hotspot areas in Nairobi and Mombasa where mass testing has begun. Two of these hotspot places, Eastleigh in Nairobi and Old Town in Mombasa, have been placed under lockdown. Kenya has 11 cases per million people while the United States has 3,905 cases per million people and 0.5 deaths per million people while the United States has 232 deaths per million people.  

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Checking temperature on the roadside with a thermo gun. Picture: Kenya News Agency.

On my way home from Eldoret last week, I, along with all trucks and other vehicles, was stopped by police at the Uasin Gishu/Kakamega County border and made to alight so that health officials with a thermo gun could take my temperature. If I had had a temperature, I would have had to go into isolation and taken a Covid-19 test to determine if I was positive or negative. I didn’t have a fever. I already knew this because I had also been “shot” by the thermo gun twice before when I was shopping in Eldoret. This, of course, would not have determined that I was Covid-19 positive if I had been asymptomatic as 71% of the people who test positive in Kenya are. This week a truck driver from the Democratic Republic of the Congo was tested at the same spot and found to have a fever. He was placed in isolation at our local Lumakanda Hospital waiting results of this Covid-19 test. Since there has been no increase in cases in Kakamega County, I assume he tested negative. Note that Kenya, unlike the United States, does test everyone with symptoms and many who have been exposed to the virus but show no symptoms.

All the alarmist projections of cases in Kenya – such as that there would be 10,000 cases in Kenya by April 30 when the actual number was 396 — and Sub-Saharan Africa is based on the assumption that no remedial action will be taken so that the virus can replicate without any intervention. To say the least this is insulting. Are Africans so lazy, stupid, ignorant, and so on that they won’t be taking any steps to contain the virus? Is this not a residual remnant of racism?

One of the great advantages for Kenya being late for the first cases to enter the country is that there was time to plan and implement remedial actions. For example, the Kenyan health officials, realizing that there were an insufficient number of ICU beds in the country, required each of its 46 counties to build and equip additional ICU beds. Here is one of many responses:

https://mwakilishi.com/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/2020-05/Muranga-ICU-7.jpg?itok=xv-Vxd5m

Murang’a County north of Nairobi built this 35 bed ICU hospital in a remarkable 19 days. It is fully equipped and qualified staff have been recruited and hired, ready when needed for any substantial increase in patients from Covid-19 requiring ICU care. As of now Murang’a County has no confirmed coronavirus cases. This unit was totally designed and built by Murang’a County staff and local workers, which saved substantially not only in time but also in its cost of $250,000.

The government also required each county to designate various schools and universities that had been closed as isolation centers for people who had been tracked from being exposed to the positive cases. Unfortunately the police have used some of these centers to put 7:00 PM to 5:00 AM curfew breakers in isolation until their tests came back negative. In other words they were using this isolation as punishment.

When masks were hard to obtain, Kenya began manufacturing its own masks which are now being hawked on the streets throughout the country. When personal protective equipment (PPE) was unavailable, Kenya began manufacturing PPE. When ventilators were unobtainable, Kenya began manufacturing them at about one-fourth the cost of buying them internationally. When the long swabs were unobtainable, Kenya started them. In short, Kenya is not depending upon the wealthy donor nations to come to the rescue, but confronting Covid-19 head-on with her own resources.

When Gideon Saburi, the Deputy Governor of Kilifi County, on the south coast of Kenya, next to the Tanzania, returned from Germany, he signed a statement that he would self-quarantine himself for two weeks. He didn’t do this and moved around in the public. A few days later he was confirmed to be positive and was quarantined. This irresponsibility led to a total of five more cases in Kilifi County. With tracking and quarantine, these cases did not lead to more cases. After more than two weeks, all six people recovered so that Kilifi County was virus free again. This illustrates the ability and success of the methods being used in Kenya to contain the virus. Unfortunately soon thereafter two more cases were imported into Kilifi County from Tanzania. In response Kenya has closed or is more closely monitoring border crossings.

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At the end of March the Italian government requested international help to contain the Covid-19 virus. Somalia, considered by most to be a failed state, responded by sending 20 Somali doctors to be part of an emergency response team. These volunteer doctors were from the Somali National University and were already registered in Italy. Which country, Italy or Somalia, is the under-developed one?

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Here is the current case load in nearby African countries (plus the United States for comparison) as of Thursday, May 7. 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.

CountryCasesCasesIncreaseDeathsRecovered
5/7/20204/30/20205/7/20205/7/2020
Burundi1511417
Ethiopia19113156493
Kenya60739621129197
Rwanda271243280133
Somalia92860132744106
South Sudan74353900
Sudan9304424885292
Tanzania*480480016167
Uganda1018318055
Eastern Africa3,5972,4221,175146850
United States1,292,6231,095,023197,60076,928217,250

*Tanzania has not undated its Covid-19 statistics for the last 8 days. The head of the Covid-19 lab has been suspended from his position by the president.  There is no updated information on Tanzania.

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David Zarembka

Phone 254 (0)726 590 783
Reports from Kenya: www.davidzarembka.com/

Email: davidzarembka@gmail.com

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