Another Covid peak expected in July as India variant cases rise 

Covid in Nairobi

A bus attendant checks a passenger’s temperature and offers hand sanitiser, part of measures for preventing the spread of Covid-19, at the Kencom stage in Nairobi on May 11, 2021. 

Photo credit: Jeff Angote | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • According to Acting Health Director-General Patrick Amoth, data patterns show a peak every three months.
  • The country recorded the highest peak in March 2021 and another is expected in two months, said Dr Amoth.

Experts have warned of another Covid-19 spike in July as the country continues to record more cases of the deadly India variant.

As of yesterday, Kenya had recorded 20 cases of the variant, creating fear that it could be spreading in the community.

The variant, named B.1.617, has been blamed for the surge in the number of infections in India, with cases surpassing 24 million.

Acting Health Director-General Patrick Amoth on Friday said the country had recorded another 15 cases, this is after confirming five cases earlier this month.

The 15 cases were from 17 samples tested at Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) in Kilifi.

“There’s nothing to hide. This variant has been found in Kenya. Because of global connectivity, you can’t put barriers to prevent a virus from accessing your territory. It’s just a question of time,” Dr Amoth said.

Mandatory antigen testing

To control the spread of the deadly variant, the Health ministry has imposed a mandatory antigen testing of passengers for Covid-19 at Jomo Kenyatta International Conference (JKIA) upon arrival.

The increase in the number of cases of the variant is happening at a time when the Ministry is warning of a possible peak in July.

Dr Amoth said that going by the virus pattern in the country, a peak has been witnessed after every three months.

“If you look at the mortality pattern from March 2020 to March 2021, a clear picture is coming out. Our analysis shows us we had a peak in July and after three months we had another in November,” he said.

The country recorded the highest peak in March 2021 and another is expected in two months, said Dr Amoth.

“We can categorically state that if this trend continues, our next peak should be in July,” he said.

The first peak of the Covid-19 infections was on July 26, 2020, when 960 cases were recorded, alongside two deaths and a seven-day average of seven deaths.

The second peak was on November 27, 2020, when 1,554 cases and 14 deaths were recorded, with a seven-day average of 13 deaths.

Adhere to control measures

“What we saw in the second wave was worse and given that we now have the variant here, if we don’t learn from our past, then we will be surprised by the virus,” warned Kemri Deputy Director Prof Matilu Mwau.

He said the only way to remain safe is to take individual responsibility and adhere to the control measures, which include regularly washing hands with soap, sanitising and wearing a mask.

“You cannot be sure of where you will get the virus or who is seated next you because they might have the virus, the only way to be safe is to ensure that you follow the safety measures to the letter,” Dr Amoth said.

At the same time, Covid-19 fatalities in the country have increased by two per cent in the last four weeks, placing Kenya at number two, coming after Egypt which reported a 12 per cent increase. This is according to the latest Covid-19 report from the Centers for Disease Control.

Prof Mwau said more testing needs to be done to identify the positive cases early before the variant spreads further in the community.

“You know, the ministry needs to move with speed, vigorous contact tracing should be happening now, with genome sequencing we could be doing many samples. We need to move before it’s too late for us,” he said.

He added: “ After witnessing what we did in India because of the virus, Kenyans have more reason to worry. We will suffer more should the numbers increase any further. Sanitise and put on your masks, be more vigilant”.