What you need to know:
- Poverty levels have grown and with that increased cases of social vices.
- President Kenyatta is expected to make fresh pronouncements on how to deal with the crisis.
Five months ago, Kenya recorded the first case of coronavirus infection. The country was thrown into a whirlpool and the subsequent weeks became too traumatising. President Kenyatta quickly laid out a raft of measures to contain the pandemic.
All educational institutions were closed, public gatherings such as worship and political rallies were stopped, funerals restricted to a maximum of 15 people, social places such as bars and restaurants and clubs were also shut. A night curfew was imposed and some counties closed.
Reflecting on the past few months, the country like the rest of the world, has changed in a fundamental way. Social interactions have been minimised. Work practices have been altered. But the most dramatic is the impact on Covid-19 on economies.
Lockdowns and tough restrictions have depressed economies and the resultant effect is collapse of businesses, massive job layoffs and widespread unemployment. Poverty levels have grown and with that increased cases of social vices.
For its part, the government rolled out various packages to cushion the public and stimulate economic growth. It’s too early in the day to determine the impact, but the reality is that the country is hurting. Resources earmarked for combating the pandemic have not been properly used. Public health facilities have expanded to deal with the virus, but it has diverted attention from other health programmes.
There is a pervading senses of helplessness made worse by the fact the government seems to be shooting in the dark.
This is why we ask for deep reflection and rethink of the strategies already put in place. In a week’s time, President Kenyatta is expected to make fresh pronouncements on how to deal with the crisis. Continued lockdowns and restrictions are not necessary. Coronavirus is with us and the challenge, therefore, is how to live with it.
It is time to change tack and begin reopening the economy.