When soldiers were marching out of State House to escort the late President Mwai Kibaki’s funeral procession, observant Kenyans noted something unusual: all the soldiers were masked up.
On Friday, Kibaki’s state requiem mass at the Nyayo National Stadium saw the return of the face coverings that became ubiquitous at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Kibaki’s body was escorted from Lee Funeral Home to Nyayo stadium.
It is not just soldiers who donned face masks but also clerics, prominent personalities like First Lady Margaret Kenyatta Ida Odinga and a host of leaders who accompanied President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The return of masks comes as health experts are warning about the sixth wave of Covid-19, urging Kenyans not to drop their guard.
In its 15th advisory, the eminent persons committee of the Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB) says the next Covid-19 wave will begin at the end of April, reach its peak around May 17 and start declining after June 2.
The panel says the wave will take about 40 days and will likely be milder than the previous ones.
The new wave is attributed to several factors such as ignoring public health protocols and guidelines, the reopening of schools, political activities and low vaccination rates.
While the Ministry of Health says Kenya has fully vaccinated about 30 percent of the population, it is far from achieving the 70 percent global target by June.
Health CS Mutahi Kagwe lifted Covid-19 prevention measures in March, including the wearing of face masks in public and restrictions on gatherings, after sustaining a less than one percent positivity rate.
Mr Kagwe urged Kenyans to continue handwashing and using hand sanitisers.
“People are encouraged to maintain social distance and avoid crowding in public spaces to ensure the risk of spread is limited. We, however, encourage the use of masks in all indoor functions.”
In the last Covid-19 update issued by the Ministry of Health on Thursday, 11 people tested positive for the virus.