Covid-19 is back, you need to take care

Patrick Amoth

Dr Patrick Amoth, acting Health director-general, has asked Kenyans to heed Covid preventive measures and ensure that they do not forget that the virus is still here with us.

Photo credit: Pool I Nation Media Group

The Covid-19 positivity rate has increased in the last week from one per cent to 10 per cent, a sign that the virus could be creeping back into the community.

The increase has also been witnessed in the number of positive cases recorded at testing facilities, though the number of severe cases and deaths remains low.

When Kenya started recording fewer Covid-19 cases in March this year, the former Health Cabinet secretary, Mutahi Kagwe, lifted most of the containment measures, including wearing masks in public, calling it optional.

In June, experts from the Lake Region Economic Bloc asked the government to reinstate mask-wearing but the call fell on deaf ears.

Globally, new infections and deaths have been generally low but as the flu season started in October, more new cases are being recorded.

In the UK, rising Covid-19 cases coincide with the flu season, a pattern also witnessed in Kenya.

There are also new Covid-19 variants in the offing. In the United States, scientists report that the Omicron sub-variant BA.5 is not the dominant one anymore.

Their sequencing shows that sub-lineages from a combination of BA.2, BA.4 and BA.5 could be causing a rise in infections.

Variants BQ.1 and BQ.1 have been on the scientists’ radar and US-based news outlet CNN reported the numbers are going up. 

Kenya’s Health ministry has not divulged updated details of our Covid-19 genomic surveillance and so the variants circulating in the country remain a mystery.

Most people have moved on from the pandemic and do not adhere to public health measures that had slowly been ingrained into our system.

On Thursday, the positivity rate shot to 10 per cent, with 106 people testing positive for Covid-19, the highest recorded in the last six months.

A large number of those who tested positive were Kenyans, meaning the virus is circulating in the population.

This is happening as most Kenyans complain about flu-like symptoms, including a runny nose, fever, sneezing, headache and body pains.

Many are complaining about a spike in viral respiratory illnesses, with experts urging Kenyans to take protective measures.

Some have taken to social media platforms to complain about their symptoms and how they have been down with the strange flu that is not going away.

“For the last week, I have been down with this mysterious flu. Every part of my body is painful. I have taken all the medicines and concoctions that I know of and none of them seems to be working. What is this surely,” wrote Anastatia Wakili on Twitter.

“I think the flu is spreading in our population or is it just me whose immunity is down,” Lopez wrote on her Facebook page.

“It is here again. The flu. This one now is bad. I even nosebleed while blowing my nose. Is this normal,” wrote Emmanuel Kebaso.

But it is not clear the increase in the number of flu cases is associated with the number of those getting infected with Covid-19.

Dr Patrick Amoth, acting Health director-general, asked Kenyans to heed preventive measures and ensure that they do not forget that the virus is still here with us.

“We need to continue washing our hands and observe social distancing when in public places. I am not saying that there is an outbreak, but let’s observe all the measures,” he said.

In the US, there is an outbreak of flu and many have been hospitalised, with data from the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention indicating that this year’s outbreak is worse than usual

The CDC estimates that there have been at least 880,000 illnesses, nearly 7,000 hospitalisations and 360 deaths from the flu in the US this season, with experts advising residents to get a flu shot to protect themselves.