August deadliest month since Covid-19 outbreak

Mutahi Kagwe

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe briefs journalists on the country’s Covid-19 status at Afya House on August 30, 2021.

Photo credit: Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Nyeri Catholic Archbishop Anthony Muheria criticised the response of the government to the fourth wave of Covid-19.
  • More than 14 priests at the archdiocese contracted the virus and were admitted to hospital. 

August has been Kenya’s deadliest month since the Covid-19 outbreak last year, with 795 reported deaths, according to the Ministry of Health.

Two hundred and ninety seven people died in July after contracting the virus, compared to 462 in June. The number in May was 449.

Nyeri Catholic Archbishop Anthony Muheria, who is also the chairperson of the Interfaith Council on the National Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic, criticised the response of the government to the fourth wave of Covid-19.

Archbishop Muheria spoke after the burial of a priest who died from coronavirus-related complications earlier in the week.

“We seem not to follow words with action. The virus has killed many Kenyans in August, with the positivity rate hitting 15 per cent,” he said.

More than 14 priests at the archdiocese contracted the virus and were admitted to hospital. 

Three of them are still in the High Dependency Unit, while one was in the ICU for the 38th day yesterday.

“We have realised the gravity of the situation and decry the recklessness with which Kenyans, especially our leaders, are handling the Covid-19 situation,” Archbishop Muheria said.


“At a time many people are dying from this disease, our leaders have found it fitting to relax measures meant to protect us. I have lost a priest and do not wan to lose another. We must get serious when it comes to this pandemic.”

The number of people allowed at a funeral has been reduced to a maximum of 200. Archbishop Muheria criticised politicians flocking to burials with multitudes of followers.

“When a leader dies, thousands of people gather at the funeral without face masks. People are eating at  funerals though it is prohibited,” the archbishop said. 

“It is for this reason that I ask anyone in Kenya who has lost a father, mother, child, relative, friend or colleague not to listen to those saying coronavirus has gone down. It is with us. We will lose more people if we are not careful.”

Archbishop Muheria appealed to politicians to stop calling meetings and rallies, advising them to use other channels, such as the media, to reach their targeted audience.

“I also advise Kenyans to get vaccinated against coronavirus. Vaccines protect us,” he said.

In Nyeri alone, a total of 84 people died from coronavirus in August, up from the 37 in July – a 27 per cent increase. 

By Sunday, the county had recorded 77 fatalities while seven more people died on Tuesday.

Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga said the cold weather and the burden of non-communicable diseases could be the leading causes of the increased number of coronavirus deaths.

“Nyeri has a high number of people with diabetes, cancer, hypertension and other lifestyle diseases. The chances of dying increase when one contracts this virus,” Governor Kahiga said.

He urged residents to be cautious and continue observing the guidelines and protocols given by the Ministry of Health to stop the spread of the disease.  

The county had run out of the AstraZeneca vaccine, but received 7,000 doses recently, which the governor says is still not enough.

Meru county recorded 14 Covid-19 deaths last month.

County health authorities in mid August raised the alarm over the rapid rising Covid-19 infections and announced plans to close some inpatient services at Meru Level Five Hospital to create space for critically ill Covid-19 patients.

Meru Medical Services Chief Officer James Kirimi, at the time said the number of people with coronavirus was alarmingly high and called for heightened precautions among residents.

“All patients at our main hospital have not been vaccinated against coronavirus. We urge locals to take up the vaccine because it will reduce the impact in case one is infected,” Dr Kirimi said.

Preventive measures

He added that since the Delta variant struck, more people were being admitted to hospital in critical condition.
Six people have died from coronavirus in Embu county in the last three months. 

One person died in May while another two died the following month.

Three more deaths were recorded in July.

Health officials attributed the rise of the cases to failure by residents to observe the Covid-19 preventive measures.

The death rate from coronavirus is not very high but health officials have been telling residents to observe the Covid-19 preventive measures.

Fourteen people have died of Covid-19 in Kirinyaga county in the last three months. 

According to the county’s health department, some 10 people lost their lives to the viral disease in August, making it the worst month for Kirinyaga.  

Health executive Gladys Njeri called for strict observation and enforcement of Covid-19 protocols.

By Irene Mugo, George Munene, David Muchui and James Murimi