We have 7,000 Kenyans in quarantine who arrived back between Wednesday and Sunday. In Dagoretti South Constituency we are hosting them at Lenana School and Kinyanjui Technical. How they got there and the chaos therein is a story for another day.
Kenya currently has an acute shortage of testing kits, so the country cannot adequately test how many of these new arrivals are currently positive! We currently do not know the exact number of positive cases in the country.
Today, CS Mutahi is only communicating what they have tested with the limited testing kits available. There are many, many untested, unreported positive cases out here.
How many of these new arrivals will test positive when we finally get kits in two weeks’ time or so, or whenever the kits arrive? Only God knows.
Moderate estimates are that by May, Kenya will be reporting in excess of 10,000 positive patients!
My two cents worth on what we must do immediately:
• Kenya Government must forthwith communicate the gravity of the real situation without sugar coating anymore. Let Kenyans know how bad things are about to get. Kenyans will be better equipped to make personal decisions and put up with government decrees, measures and restrictions if they have the right information. And also make necessary personal plans.
• Kenya Government MUST now start preparing Isolation Centres around the country. This cannot be left to County Governments who are currently designating a few hospital beds in existing hospitals. Counties have no idea what is coming their way!
Kenya National Government must set up massive Isolation Centres around the country; over 4,000 bed isolation centres in Kasarani, Nyayo and City Stadiums in Nairobi. Over 3,000 bed Isolation centres in Mombasa and similar centres countrywide. This CANNOT and MUST not be left to County governments. Again, even they don’t know yet just how hard this thing is about to hit the Kenya!
• We must start mass producing masks immediately! We might not as a country be able to produce the high quality N95 masks (or whatever they are called) but masks are just about to become the most important commodity in this country.
• Kenya Government MUST take stock of available ventilators in the country and then immediately order, buy, beg or steal more from wherever they must!.
• Kenya Government must take stock of all available Gas cylinders within the borders of Kenya; (maybe even ata zile ziko pale kwa garage za chomelea Dagoretti Corner). GoK MUST then urgently bring on board private manufacturers. There will have to be a way of manufacturing and refilling these cylinders with oxygen. If anyone can think of how one cylinder can serve more than one ventilator (without cross contamination) that guy will be Kenya’s life saving hero.
• Beds and beddings need to be fabricated in the thousands. On this, our jua kali sector is up to the task, our artisans in Ngando along Ngong Road and others all over the country are more than skilled for this.
• Health Caretakers’ apparel and protective gear need to be produced en masse. EPZ, KITUI, RIVATEX, NYS and wherever else we stitch school, police, KDF uniforms must kick into overdrive.
• Community Health Volunteers are Kenya’s best bet in managing the chaos on the ground that is just about to ensue. GoK, please, please, be good to these people, in Dagoretti South we have over 400 of them in our database (and AMREFs). They are in every constituency. Arm them with hand held thermometers for early detections and referrals for the relevant quick medical response. In GoK planning, please set aside monies for a stipend for the CHVs countrywide. They are about to become the frontline in this battle.
• Health Committee in Parliament will have to take leadership on the legislative response to this disaster. A Kenya COVID 19 Bill is long overdue. Kenya Parliament MUST step up to the plate. Sorry, populist paycut stories won’t help here.
• Kenya Government MUST stop thinking April and start strategising May going forward! This is critical because short term thinking got us here in the first place! – We have been missing critical Milestones and that is why we are where we are! This is an imported disease! If we just kept our borders closed in the first place we would not be in this mess!
• Do we have food in our strategic reserves? It’s no longer business as usual, GoK will have to feed its people. Either do a cash disbursement starting with the most vulnerable or set up food ration stations in the neighbourhoods or mount a massive food distribution network, KDF, NYS might come in handy for this. Or map the country and do all of the three.
• This one is Nairobi specific – Nairobi Water and Sewerage Company MUST be forced to supply sufficient water to the estates! Ile kiboko ya Police wa curfew ipelekwe Kampala Road! This is not the time for NWSC to play those artificial shortage games! The Dams are full for God’s sake, how can taps in Rīruta be dry for over a month! For the unpiped estates in Nairobi, Athi Water Works Board MUST set up 100 free water stations per Nairobi Constituency where NWSC bowsers fill up communal tanks for all to access water. More stations, mean less crowding hence appropriate social distancing. This is a sanitation disaster, Nairobi has NO CAPACITY to manage COVID 19 and Cholera at the same time!
• GoK’s thinking on the economy MUST radically be refocused from cushioning economic shocks to SURVIVAL! There will be no economy to recover from if this thing totally decimates all of us. I am a Arts Double Major, undergrad and post grad, there are colleagues like Kimani Ichung’wah to help with the Double Maths.
• GoK MUST come out immediately and admit that the government CANNOT handle what is coming on its own. No drought, Bomb blast, Terror attack, Westgate, or disaster we have known before is anywhere close to what is coming. We will need a “Kenyans for Kenyans” to the power of 100 to even barely survive! GoK MUST partner with Private sector to build Kenya’s biggest disaster response band wagon that any well wisher can jump on to and plug in their support.
My two cents worth and a penny for change.
The writer is MP for Dagoretti South Constituency