Lower your guard, mask at your own risk

People walking in Nairobi streets without putting on face masks properly on September 20, 2020.

Photo credit: Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • A section of schoolgoing children are wearing their masks and braving it out there.
  • The need to exhale and release some tension is only natural.

In view of the reopening of bars, churches, schools and generally “the outside”, it would appear that life is now back to the “new normal”.

Businesses are slowly picking up, although some may not fully recover from the impact of Covid-19. Churches are now open and in full swing, it appears.

A section of schoolgoing children are wearing their masks and braving it out there. Super-spreader events like weddings, funerals and parties are back like they never left.

 Life as we knew it, or at least most parts of it, is back to where it was on March 12, when the government officially announced Kenya’s first case of Covid-19. We no longer anxiously wait for the government’s announcement on new Covid-19 positive cases. We no longer gasp in fear at the news of Covid-19-related deaths. Somehow, we seem have become numb to the viral disease.

As at October 15, the total number of Covid-19 cases was 43,143, with 805 deaths. Which is why today’s column is a rather unfortunate one. I feel quite odd to be the one to remind us of the obvious: we are not yet out of the woods.

Six months

Understandably, the past six months have been soul-crushing. Jobs lost. Families separated by travel restrictions. We lost many loved ones to Covid-19. Many more have contracted the virus and continue to feel the effects, months after recovery.

The need to exhale and release some tension is only natural. The need to get back to our businesses and workplaces has never been more urgent for a country whose economy still continues to struggle.

However, as we ease back to our pre-March 12 life, let us be careful not to slip back to the high infection days and claw back on the numerous gains we have realised in fighting the pandemic. I am worried about the scenes we are witnessing from events and bars. I am worried about the disregard for masks and social distancing.

Covid-19 infections

But what worries me more is that Covid-19 infections continue to rise as we go on with our “normal” lives – even as governments in the West consider new lock-down measures.

We cannot afford to drop the ball – not when life has just begun to pick up and definitely not when children are back in school. What a waste it would be to go back to the days of high infections, when we could have saved the day by a simple act like wearing a mask.

There is nothing wrong with reopening the world. Eventually, we will have to lift the curfew and travel restrictions will soon be over. Sooner than we think, bars and restaurants will be open till 6am. However, even as we reopen, we must remain alert and smart. Don’t lower your guard and mask yet. We are still in this fight.

I hate to end this with a cliché, but, it is not over until it’s over.