The pain of India’s Covid-19 contagion is being felt in most parts of the world, including Kenya.
More than half a million Kenyans who were due for the second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine will have to wait longer because supplies from the Asian manufacturing hub have been cut off.
Scores of Kenyans and their family members who travelled there for medical treatment are also stranded. While the international community rallies to help contain what is easily the worst humanitarian crisis anywhere currently, it is also picking key lessons on how not to fight a pandemic from the Indian authorities.
The latest Covid-19 infections surge, which averages more than 300,000 daily in the country of more than 1.3 billion people, is blamed on the recklessness of its political and religious leaders who had recently taken to pulling large gatherings all over.
Despite official restrictions announced to contain the pandemic, elections for state and council seats have been going on in some parts of the country since March.
Last month, a court criticised the electoral agency for not moving to stop public rallies in one of the states.
“Your institution is singularly responsible for the second wave of the Covid-19,” said the court.
The Kenyan leaders currently busy preparing the country for BBI constitutional referendum campaigns in July should hear this.
Unless they are incorrigibly reckless, they surely don’t want to walk Kenyans down the valley of death like their Indian counterparts did to their people.
The current third wave of Covid-19 infections, which prompted President Uhuru Kenyatta impose partial lockdowns and extend the night curfew, exploded on the back of super-spreader rallies held across the country to promote or counter BBI.
Something notable about our third wave is the sheer number of politicians who have been taken ill.
Although they have been careful not to reveal too much about how they may have contracted the virus, they haven’t done much to defuse speculation about transmission at the public rallies.
And while they skillfully recounted their experiences with Covid-19 and won lots of public sympathy, they conveniently avoided mentioning the role of the political class in spreading the virus.
Neither did they drop any hints of guilt at the economic privileges that enabled them to survive the disease as many poor Kenyans die due to lack of ICU beds, oxygen, PPE, or paracetamols in public hospitals.
With so little to expect from the government in terms of public healthcare – other than lockdowns and police roadblocks, which were eased somewhat yesterday – the role of voluntary observance of social distancing in keeping a majority of Kenyans out of harm’s way cannot be over-emphasised.
Updates by the Ministry of Health in recent days show that the infection curve is beginning to flatten.
A resurgence of referendum campaign rallies is sure to reverse the gains and send Kenyans the deadly India way. Don’t be Covid idiots; stop BBI for now.