12 months, 12 photos: The face of the coronavirus in Kenya

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe briefs the media outside Harambee House in Nairobi on March 13, 2020, whene he confirmed Kenya'ss first Covid-19 case.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • It has been one year since the coronavirus pandemic that occasioned many changes was confirmed in the country, and only photos can best help us recount the year that was.   

A click. A tick. A clock. A camera.

While all are parameters used to denote time and space, once upon a time, photos told the story of changing times and photography was just about capturing a moment in time and space. 

Then 2020 happened. And the parameters changed too. Time was counted in lockdown days, and space, measured in increment of more than 1.5 metres apart.  

Clocks ticked; cameras clicked. It has been a year since the Covid-19 pandemic that occasioned the change was confirmed in the country, and only photos can best help us recount the year that was.   

Here's a compilation of photos that tell the tale of the coronavirus in Kenya. In the photos, we see not only grim faces but also a people determined to beat all odds.  

March 2020 – Steps of Harambee House

On the afternoon of March 13, 2020, on the steps of Harambee House in Nairobi, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe, flanked by a battery of high-ranking government officials faced the nation with the ominous news. 

“It was not a matter of if, but when,” Mr Kagwe said, announced that the virus had landed in Kenya and would, in its wake, devastate the economy.

The announcement followed days of anxiety and strong criticism of the how the government was handling the coronavirus threat. 

Then came the daily coronavirus updates where the signature phrase was “Fellow Kenyans, in the last 24 hours…” 

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe briefs the media outside Harambee House in Nairobi on March 13, 2020, whene he confirmed Kenya'ss first Covid-19 case.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

April 2020 - Patient one recovers

On April 1, widely recognised as Fools’ Day, came the announcement that Ivy Brenda Cherotich, Kenya’s first confirmed coronavirus patient, and Brian Orinda had recovered from the virus.

The Covid-19 survivors made their first public appearance in a live call with President Uhuru Kenyatta. It was also the first time the identities of the patients were revealed. 

Brenda Cheruitich and Brain Orinda

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe during a meeting with Brenda Cheruitich and Brain Orinda at Afya House in Nairobi, after they recovered from Covid-19.

Photo credit: Pool

May 2020 – Government bans in-church services

After the directive was issued, Christians found alternatives including online services and using fields to worship.

The ban on in-church services was one of the containment measures that the government put in place to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Ngong Road prayers

Members of the public pray at Posta Grounds along Ngong Road on May 17, 2020.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

June 2020 – a hundred days of coronavirus in Kenya

Kenya marked 100 days since the index Covid-19 case was confirmed as four State House staff tested positive for Covid-19.

Photo credit: Courtesy

July 2020– First medic dies of coronavirus

Doctor Doreen Adisa Lugaliki was the first doctor in Kenya to die of of Covid-19.

Her death came barely 48 hours after she was admitted to Aga Khan Hospital, Nairobi. 

She died on July 10 and was buried on July 13.

Lugaliki funeral

Grace Lugaliki, mother of Dr Doreen Adisa Lugaliki, and other mourners during her funeral at Ndalu in Bungoma County on July 13, 2020.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

August 2020: Covid-19 millionaires exposed 

In August was an expose that listed the names of companies and individuals benefiting from money that was meant to help in covid-19.

There were 13,565 new cases in August, raising the total number of confirmed cases to 34,201.

The death toll rose to 577 and at the end of the month there were 13,731 active cases

Kemsa offices

The Kenya Medical Supplies Authority's offices in Nairobi.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

September 2020: Review of numbers at weddings and burials

The President reviewed upwards the size of gatherings but extended the nationwide curfew in the country to 60 days.

The number of people at religious gatherings was changed from 100 to one third of the normal size of the congregation.

The number of persons attending weddings and funerals changed from 100 to 200 but with strict adherence to all anti-virus guidelines and protocols issued by the Ministry of Health. 

The President also reviewed the dusk to dawn curfew from 9pm to 11pm. The curfew hours would therefore end at 4am and begin at 11pm. 

Kajembe burial

Public Health carry Changamwe MP Ramadhan Kajembe's body during the burial at Kwa Shee in Mikindani, Jomvu Sub-county in Mombasa on August 8, 2020.

Photo credit: Kevin Odit | Nation Media Group

October 2020 –phased reopening of schools

After months of schools' closure when the pandemic struck, learners in Grade Four, Standard Eight and Form Four resumed  their studies on October 12.

The three were considered priority groups because Grade Four is the pioneer competency-based curriculum group while the others were national exam candidates.

The other learners continued their stay at home not knowing when they would return to school.

Education CS George Magoha and PS Belio Kipsang at the KICC in Nairobi on September 11, 2020 during a meeting on preparations ahead of the phased re-opening of schools.

Photo credit: Pool

November 2020: Four medics die in 24 hours

In November came a dark day in the medical fraternity as four doctors succumbed to Covid-19 on a single day.

Emarah Ashraf, Hudson Alumera, Jackiline Njoroge and Faith Kanjiru Mbabu’s deaths brought the total number of health workers who had succumbed to the virus to 31.

Dr Chibanzi Mwachonda, Secretary-General of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) announced the devastating news. 

Doctors killed by Covid

Doctors Emarah Ashraf, Hudson Alumera, Jackiline Njoroge and Faith Kanjiru Mbabu.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

December 2020: Christmas under lockdown

This was unlike the norm during Christmas, when churches are usually packed.

The festive season came after the churches had been allowed to have just enough people in church but social distancing has to be observed.

Some of the traditions in churches, such as handshakes, were avoided to minimise the spread of Covid-19. 

Nyeri church

Faithful attend  a Sunday service at Our Lady of Consolata Church in Nyeri County on December 27, 2020, while social distancing, in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

January 2021: Children learning under trees

When schools reopened, Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha asked teachers and school heads to get creative in observing social distancing.

Some taught outside, under trees. 

Mweiga Primary School

Pupils learn under trees at Mweiga Primary School in Nyeri County on January 4, 2021, in a bid to observe social distance and other ministry of health’s protocols of keeping covid-19 at bay. 

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

February 2021: KQ re-designs its airplanes

At the time, Kenya Airways had not been listed as one of the airways that was to transport Covid-19 vaccines.

Ethiopian Airlines and Astral Aviation were the only African airlines that were part of the list 

Hazel Wachira

Kenya Airways engineer Hazel Wachira inside a repurposed aircraft Boeing 787 that will be used in transportation of vaccines.

Photo credit: Pool

March 2021: Vaccine arrives

After a year of death, despair and constant fear of contracting coronavirus, a Qatar airline plane carrying a first consignment of 1,020,000 coronavirus jabs landed at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi on March 2, 2021.

The AstraZeneca vaccines were shipped from the Serum Institute of India (SII).

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe likened it to “heavy artillery” in the war against a pandemic that has claimed more than 1,900 lives in Kenya.

At half past noon March 5, 2021, Kenya’s Health Acting Director-General Patrick Amoth became the first Covid-19 vaccine recipient in Kenya during the launch of the campaign at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH).

Dr Amoth said the government aims to vaccinate 1.25 million Kenyans against the virus by June 2021.

Amoth vaccinated

Kenyatta National Hospital nurse Lucy Kipkemei vaccinates acting Health Services Director-General Patrick Amoth against Covid-19 during the launch of Kenya's campaign on March 5, 2021.

Photo credit: Jeff Angote | Nation Media Group


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