What you need to know:
- A landlord in Nakuru town recently issued an eviction notice to a family after they tested positive for Covid-19.
- In another incident, a shopkeeper refused to sell food to a man whose wife had been diagnosed with Covid-19.
- The incidents have irked local leaders and health authorities.
- Governor Kinyanjui has warned residents against stigmatising Covid-19 patients, their families
Revelations that a landlord in one of the estates in Nakuru town issued an eviction notice to a family after they tested positive for Covid-19 have brought to the fore the stigma that people who contract the coronavirus go through.
The Nation established that John (not his real name) was diagnosed with Covid-19 through contact tracing and by the time he was tested, he had infected his family.
On learning this, the landlord gave him an eviction order, arguing that other tenants would flee if his family continued to stay in the same premises.
In yet another incident reported last week, a shopkeeper refused to sell food to a man whose wife had been diagnosed with Covid-19.
The incidents have irked local leaders and health authorities with Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui warning residents against stigmatising Covid-19 patients, their families and also those who have recovered from the viral disease.
"The question of stigma to families with confirmed cases of Covid-19 is emerging as the biggest challenge in the fight against the disease. I urge residents to stand against all forms of stigma. It might be subtle but the effect to victims and their families can be devastating," said Mr Kinyanjui.
"Confirmation of Covid-19 positive results is compounded by stigma and is likely to cause depression and other related psychosomatic complications," he added.
Molo MP Kuria Kimani and his Kuresoi South counterpart Joseph Tonui urged locals to shun stigmatisation, which they said has adversely affected some families.
"Let us avoid stigmatising patients or their families. Anyone who is breathing is a potential victim of Covid-19. Let us show them love and understanding without risking further infections. Simple acts of courtesy and charity will go a long way in alleviating very trying moments for affected families," said Mr Tonui.
Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, two people have committed suicide in Nakuru and it is believed they took their lives due to depression associated with the disease.
Last month, a man from Rongai Sub-County in Nakuru County committed suicide while awaiting results of his Covid-19 test.
County health authorities said the man in his 50s and who worked as a driver used a curtain to hang himself while at the War Memorial Hospital’s isolation ward.
He was found dead by doctors doing routine checks.
The man had been admitted to the private hospital after developing symptoms which included shortness of breath, coughing and a high body temperature.
The test result later showed that the man had Covid-19.
Although it was not clear why the man killed himself, the incident brought to the fore the mental health concerns that the pandemic has caused.
Health authorities said they would investigate the matter.
On March 27, a 27-year-old South African woman who had been placed on the mandatory 14-day quarantine at the Kenya Industrial Training Institute (KITI) committed suicide in her room.
She had sneaked into the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport after failing to obtain clearance from the immigration department.
The Ministry of Health on several occasions warned Kenyans against stigmatising Covid-19 patients and those who have recovered from the disease.
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe in a recent latest briefing said stigma is likely to undermine testing and treating of patients and puts everyone at risk of contracting the virus.
“Our shared vulnerability to the virus should be a source of solidarity. It is the virus which is the enemy, not people with Covid-19 or those affected by it,” said Mr Kagwe.