Kenyans resolute to fight COVID-19 as cases surge

Medics work at the coronavirus isolation centre at the Mbagathi Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya, March 6, 2020. (Photo by Fred Mutune/Xinhua)
Medics work at the coronavirus isolation centre at the Mbagathi Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya, March 6, 2020. (Photo by Fred Mutune/Xinhua)

As COVID-19 cases rise in Kenya to stand at 582, the resolve to fight the disease is growing, with citizens striving to ensure those who flout the rules do not get away with it.

Kenya announced several measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, including compulsory use of face masks, closure of schools, churches, bars and hotels to maintain social distancing.

It has also partially locked down the capital Nairobi and four other counties and there is a dusk to dawn curfew.

However, some citizens have been flouting the rules, which has been blamed for the fast increase of cases especially in the past week.

Both the government and responsible citizens are alarmed by the surge in cases, with ordinary Kenyans now helping law enforcers enforce compliance with measures instituted to curb the spread of the disease.

In public transport vehicles commonly known as matatus, normalcy had started to return with some passengers avoiding to wear masks or wash their hands before boarding vehicles.

The government identified the vehicles as one of the high-risk places where transmission of the disease can be high, thus limited the number of passengers using the vehicle.

A 32 passenger vehicle now carries half the number of commuters but operators had started to flout the rules. However, with rise in cases, citizens are standing firm to ensure such transgressions don’t happen.

“Why should the conductor carry excess passengers defying social distance and risking the lives of everyone?” said Catherine, a commuter in a matatu that plies Nairobi city center-Imara Daima route on Tuesday.

She led other passengers in forcing the conductor to drop the three excess commuters at the next bus terminus.

For motorbike taxis, citizens are declining to board those whose riders refuse to wear masks as directed by the government to contain the spread of the disease.

This has helped give a boost to the war against the spread of the disease in the sector.

Kenyans are also reporting to authorities people who are flouting social distancing rules, especially by congregating in bars to drink.

Some 60 people have been arrested in the last weeks in the capital Nairobi thanks to watchful citizens seeking to help government curb the spread of the virus.

“Some people are congregating in bars as if normalcy has returned yet cases of the virus are continuing to rise. Police should act at those people drinking in Kayole,” Willis Omondi posted on social media site Twitter, few hours before police raided one of the bars and arrested at least 45 people flouting anti-virus rules.

Social media is playing a key role in helping citizens alert authorities on those going against the rules, including matatu operators.

Health cabinet secretary Mutahi Kagwe acknowledges the importance of citizen responsibility in helping curb spread of the virus, especially through calling on those not observing measures to contain COVID-19.

“Someone crosses the border and travels from the neighboring country into Kenya. Our borders are porous and the police cannot be at every point. It is the duty of citizens to inform authorities of such people,” he said on Wednesday.

Ernest Manuyo, a business lecturer at Pioneer Institute in Nairobi, noted that the Kenyan government cannot win the war against COVID-19 without the help of citizens.

“The biggest responsibility lies squarely with citizens because government cannot police anyone. It is citizens who should observe measures announced by government and help ensure everyone observes them,” he said. Enditem

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