Current count in Kenya as of Thursday, May 28: 1,618 confirmed cases, 58 deaths, 421 recovered, and 70,172 people tested for the virus. This is an increase in the last week of 509 confirmed cases, 0 deaths, 45 decrease recovered, and 17,665 people tested (2,524 per day). Many of the new cases are in Nairobi slums where distancing is impossible. This is disconcerting. Kenya has 30 cases per million people while the United States has 5,346 cases per million people and 1 death per million people while the United States has 312 deaths per million people. 

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After my discouraging report on Covid-19 in Tanzania, I thought I should make a Report on the most successful cases in eastern Africa, Uganda, Rwanda, and Ethiopia.

Uganda: Cases 317, deaths 0, recovered 69, tests 90,832, population 46 million.

Uganda has done an extraordinary job in containing Covid-19. Also of importance is that there have been no deaths due to the virus. Uganda has done a significant amount of testing with an extremely low positive rate of only 0.34 per cent positive. For comparison, the positive rate in the United States is 10.8 per cent or 32 times higher. This low rate was accomplished because Uganda reacted extremely quickly to the threat of the virus. It began putting on restrictions even before the first positive case was confirmed in the country. Uganda has banned all travel except for trucks carrying necessary supplies.

 This exception in itself has created a major problem. If you will look at the chart above you will notice that on May 21 the number of cases in Uganda (orange line) went down by 104. How could this be? Contrary to WHO guidelines which require all cases to be recorded in their country of origin (and not country of citizenship) 119 cases of Tanzanian, Kenyan, Burundian, and Eritrean truck drivers that had tested positive in Uganda for the virus were then excluded from the national total. Naturally the drivers were returned to their home country so the Ugandan officials decided to exclude them from the Ugandan tally of positive cases. Uganda now requires all truck drivers to have a clean Covid-19 certificate before entering the country. To make this easier, as least for truckers coming from Kenya, all cargo destined for Uganda will be shipped directly by the new railroad from Mombasa – the port of Mombasa had been one of the first virus hot spots in Kenya – to the Naivasha Inland Port where the Kenyan government is placing a testing center for the truck drivers in order to process Covis-19 tests as quickly as possible.

Rwanda: Cases 349, deaths 0, recovered 245, tests 64,268, population 13 million.

Rwanda has also being doing an excellent job of containing Covid-19. You will notice from the chart above that Rwanda (blue line) was the first of these countries to confirm its original case of Covid-19. After a fairly steep rise in the beginning on May 1 Rwanda began to flatten the curve, meaning that they were able to contain the virus. As soon as the first case was reported, Rwanda began strict guidelines. Moreover Rwandan culture is very different from that of Kenya. Rwandan culture is hierarchical and organized – from over 500 years ago with the founding of the Rwandan kingdom. People obey the dictates of the government. If a person is caught in an infraction – unlike Kenya where the police can easily be bribed – in Rwanda people are arrested and have to pay the fine or imprisonment for any infractions. This has all paid off in helping to contain the virus.

Rwanda, like Uganda, has so far not recorded any deaths from Covid-19. In a country that responds like this, how many ICU units, how many ventilators, how many trained staff are needed?

New robots have been donated to Rwanda's Ministry of Health to help fight the spread of coronavirus in the country

Rwanda has received five robots to help keep health workers from being exposed to the virus. They were donated to Rwanda by the United Nations Development Fund. They are capable of doing an amazing amount of routine work.

  •  Mass temperature screening
  •  Monitoring a patient’s status
  •  Keeping medical records
  •  Screening up to 150 people per minute for high fever and dry cough
  •  Capture sound and visual data of patients
  •  Notify health workers when abnormalities are detected
  •  Deliver medicine and food to patients
  •  Able to detect people walking and not wearing masks
  •  Talk to educate health care workers and patients on dangers of the virus and how to be safe

I will be interested to learn how these robots work out and how well they are accepted by health care workers and patients. Will they be introduced elsewhere until they become routine in health care for contagious patients?

Ethiopia: Cases 831, deaths 7, recovered 191, tests 96,566, population 115 million.

On March 13 Ethiopia, the African country with the continent’s second largest population, was one of the last countries to record their first Covid-19 case (see red line in chart). Three days later Ethiopia closed all schools and banned sport events and large gatherings. It still has only 7 cases per million population – Kenya has 30 cases per million. It is clear that prompt imposition of restrictions is an important action to curtail the spread of the virus. On April 8, rather than announcing restrictions for two weeks to a month as many other countries have done, Ethiopia announced a five month period of emergency. On March 31 the election scheduled for August 29 was postponed and all electioneering suspended.

Ethiopia has recorded only 7 deaths out of 831 cases which is less than 1 percent.

As can been see in the uptick in the chart, unfortunately in the last few days the number of new cases has been increasing so that the curve, rather than flattening as in Rwanda, is turning upward.

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Two small countries in Africa have no active Covid-19 cases. Seychelles with a population of only 98,289 had 11 cases, but with 11 recovered so it now has zero active cases. Eritrea with a population of 3.5 million had 39 cases and 39 recovered so is also now virus free.

*****

Here is the current case load in nearby African countries (plus the United States for comparison) as of Thursday, May 28. The increase is compared to the previous week’s total number of cases. The total population of these 8 countries is 306 million people, while the total population of the United States is 333 million people.

CountryCasesCasesIncreaseDeaths  Recovered
5/28/20205/21/20205/28/20205/28/2020
      Burundi**   42            42      0     1   20
Ethiopia    831    399  432     7  191
Kenya 1,618 1,109  509   58  421
Rwanda    349    320    29     0  245
Somalia 1,828 1,594  234   72  310
South Sudan    994    481  513   10     6
Tanzania*     ?      ?     –     ?    ?
Uganda    317    160  157     0   69
Eastern Africa5,979 4,105     1,874 148     1,262
United States1,768,4611,620,902  147,559 103,330 498,725

*Tanzania is no longer publishing updates on Covid-19 cases in order to “not spread alarm.”

**Burundi has not updated its totals for the last 10 days.

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David Zarembka

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Reports from Kenya: www.davidzarembka.com/

Email: davidzarembka@gmail.com

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