Covid-19 infection worrying among those aged below 40

Nairobi residents

Nairobi residents walk past the Tom Mboya monument on Moi Avenue on October 2, 2021. 
 

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

Kenya’s Covid-19 cases continue to rise, with the bulk contracted by those aged below 40.

Yesterday, 502 people tested positive for the disease out of a sample size of 3,503. The country’s positivity rate was 14.3 per cent. An analysis by Saturday Nation shows the country has in the last seven days recorded an average positivity of 12.6 per cent.

As the Health ministry ramps up vaccination campaigns and reinstates containment measures such as masking, experts say vaccination remains the weapon to reduce hospitalisation and severe cases. Cumulative data countrywide shows that the highest burden on new cases is on people aged between 30 and 39, followed closely by those below the age of 30 but not less than 20 years.

The ministry’s data shows that the oldest people (aged 60 and above) and the youngest (aged nine and below) have the lowest number of cases. On the flip side, the number of fully vaccinated adults, even with the soaring positivity during the sixth wave, remains unchanged at 31 per cent.

A negligible number of children below the age of 15 have received the jab.

A screenshot from one of the private schools in Nairobi circulating on social media last week indicated a worrying trend of absentee schoolchildren in what they termed “sickness”.

Countrywide, the Health ministry’s latest situation report shows that only about 41,000 children aged between 12 and 15 have been vaccinated.

On the other hand, over one million teenagers aged between 15 and 18 have received the jab. The latest data from the Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB) shows that about 31 children below the age of 18 have been infected during the sixth wave. Of the 31, only five are registered students.

Breaking down the data to Saturday Nation, a Covid-19 modelling expert working with LREB, Dr Shem Otoi, said 18 of the 31 cases are asymptomatic. The rest present with symptoms such as general body weakness, headache, sore throat, runny nose, difficulty in breathing and loss of taste.

“Our analysis shows that children with underlying conditions are more likely to be infected with Covid-19 and be hospitalised. These conditions are diabetes, heart diseases, sickle cell, hypertension and HIV,” he said.

However, Amref chief executive Gitahi Githinji said the focus should remain on the vulnerable old population. “I think our focus should be accelerating vaccination of those above 15 years, especially the older people where the risk is higher,” he said.

On Thursday, when the country recorded its highest positivity rate of 15.4 per cent since the onset of the sixth wave, the LREB had for the first time in four months recorded more than 100 cases in a single day.

“We have observed that people below the age of 30 in the LREB are experiencing disproportionate infection, on average 56 per cent of the total infection,” Dr Otoi said.

However, some experts say the sixth wave is mild and daily reports of the sixth wave show that the country has not recorded any new deaths in the last 30 days. Fewer patients have been admitted and only a small number of inpatients (less than five in a day) are in the intensive care unit.

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