SEATTLE, Washington — Kenya announced its first case of COVID-19 on March 12, 2020. A 27-year old female returning to Kenya from the United States of America via London tested positive. She remained in quarantine until her symptoms resolved and tested negative for the virus. Since then, Kenyan government officials, along with nonprofit organizations have been working to fight COVID-19 in Kenya.
National Response to COVID-19
In mid-March, the Kenyan government declared several orders regarding COVID-19 intended to keep citizens safe and healthy. Some of these orders are self-quarantining for two weeks for any citizen returning from outside the country, suspended international travel and restricted public and private services access. Travel via plane or train ceased, as well as a 2-hour radius imposed on U.S. government official transportation from home.
Kenya’s COVID-19 Outbreak
As of June 4, 2020, Kenya confirmed 1,670 active COVID-19 cases. So far, 643 patients recovered from COVID-19 in Kenya. There have been 79 deaths related to the novel virus. Government-mandated lockdowns within the nation and international travel restrictions, such as canceling international athletic travel, aim to decrease the virus’ spread. Inter-school performances and competitions ceased. However, schools remain in session.
Kenyans, now several weeks into the nationally mandated lockdown, face nightly curfews from dusk until dawn. Movement restrictions in and out of the Nairobi area remain in effect for Kilifi, Kwale, Mombasa and Mandera County.
COVID-19 Testing in Kenya
The government requires all Kenyans testing positive to stay in government quarantine centers for 14 days. Also, if the patient tests positive they must pay for nightly stays at the quarantine facility costing approximately $20 a day and pay for their COVID-19 tests.
With the rise of COVID-19 in Kenya, testing centers have expanded to include locations in the Eastleigh district of Nairobi. The nation has enough tests, but not enough people choose to undergo testing.
Kenyans report not getting tested due to the government-mandated quarantine centers. The quarantine centers’ poor sanitization practices, along with reported cases of patients contracting other viruses during facility stays, deter citizens from testing for COVID-19.
Citizens express concerns about missing work or time with family if they receive a positive test, and anxiety about paying the necessary medical expenses dissuade Kenyans from COVID-19 testing. Recently, the Kenyan government stated they would help with the expenses for citizens demonstrating financial need.
Supply Shortages in Kenya
Citizens report feeling worried about suffering physical ailments from hunger rather than coronavirus symptoms; Kenya’s food supply decreased since the outbreak. Kenyans face paying higher prices for food and farmers are fearful of persisting locusts destroying crops.
In response, the nonprofit Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO) addresses urban poverty, focusing its campaign on community health, WASH and nutrition interventions. SHOFCO provided handwashing stations, clean water and food donations to meet the citizens’ needs.
This organization also provides educational sessions about community health, such as proper handwashing techniques, and ensures that citizens have necessary supplies like soap and access to clean water.
The Kenyan government now requires all citizens to wear protective masks in public. Due to mask shortages, Kenyan factories are upping their mask production. The masks the people will have access to are inexpensive and sustainable due to the cloth fabric.
Efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19 in Kenya continue impacting the nation as government officials and nonprofit organizations create and provide supplies to combat this virus.
– Danielle Beatty