Week 16 saw the highest number of new cases reported in a day and the lowest number of recoveries registered in a month.
A pile-up of active cases might complicate Kenya’s fight against Covid-19 if the country continues reporting fewer recoveries at a time average daily new cases continue to grow, suggests a Nation Newsplex analysis of the country’s coronavirus data.
Only 232 people were reported to have recovered from the virus in Week 16 (June 26 to July 2) of the country’s journey through the pandemic. This was the lowest number in four weeks and close to a half the 437 people that were reported to have gotten well in week 13, when recoveries peaked before the numbers started to fall.
“The recovery rate should not worry you very much. I wish you concentrated on the case fatality rate because that will be telling you the quality of care that you provide to the people,” Mr Patrick Amoth, Health director-general, told journalists on Friday.
The number of people confirmed to have fully recovered dropped from an average of 62 per day to 33 in four weeks, even as the country’s average number of people reported to have contracted the virus shot up to 222 from 125 over the same period. Coincidentally, it is the same week in which the highest number of infections in a day was reported, 307 (on July 1), that the Ministry of Health also announced (on July 2) that 20 people recovered, the lowest number in a month.
The divergence between the infection and recovery curves has introduced a trend which, if not disrupted, will deliver a huge active Covid-19 caseload with the potential of firing up the infection rate and overwhelming the healthcare system.
That the country ranks 10th in Africa in number of cases (7,577) but climbs up five places to position five in number of active cases (5,182) gives the impression that alongside the swelling number of infections, the country is faced with a stubborn virus that seems to hang around for a little longer than is the case in many other African countries. A very low death rate too would partially explain a high number of active cases. For example, about a quarter of the 15,070 cases so far reported in Algeria are active, thanks to not only a recovery rate of 70 per cent, one of the highest in Africa, but also a high death rate of six per cent. However, a 100 per cent recovery rate and a zero per cent death rate are the most desirable results in fighting the pandemic.
Kenya has a death rate of two per cent, mirroring the continent’s share of infections that have resulted in death.
Many of the active cases in the country might be people who contracted the virus in the past few days and therefore may not have had enough time to recover. People with a mild attack of Covid-19 recover in about two weeks, while it takes about three to six weeks for those with severe or critical version of the disease to expel the virus from their body, according to the World Health Organization.
However, the fact that there are a number of countries that have reported high numbers of infection but managed to maintain relatively low figures of active cases might necessitate a re-examination of the Kenya’s Covid-19 treatment and management approach.
About seven in 10 (68 per cent) of Kenya’s reported cases are active. The number is higher than the continent’s 50 per cent. The share is only second to Egypt’s 69 per cent, among countries that have reported over 5,000 cases. The country has a recovery rate of 30 per cent, the 15th lowest rate in the continent and only higher than Egypt’s 27 per cent, among nations with 5,000 cases or more. The recovery rates in Africa and the world are 48 per cent and 56 per cent, respectively, according to data in the John Hopkins University Covid-19 portal.
A high and growing number of active cases has proven to be the surest way to getting the hospitals overwhelmed through increased admission and management of critical cases. However, the country has one thing going for it. “Available data in our country shows that 78 per cent of infected persons admitted to our hospitals are either asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic, and, therefore, can be managed at home, provided proper laid down procedures are followed” said Chief Administrative Secretary for Health, Dr Rashid Aman on June 10, when the Ministry of Health launched the home-based isolation and care guidelines. On the same day the ministry announced the highest number of recoveries in a day to date – 175.
The Jitenge System stepped in to relieve health facilities of the mounting pressure brought about by the rapid growth of community transmission of the virus. It will see hospitals handle only serious conditions while households host and take care of asymptomatic patients and those with mild symptoms under strict conditions spelt out by the ministry.
However, even though the sharing of the disease burden between health facilities and communities would guarantee hospitals a lifeline, spreading out a high number of active cases into household might not yield the desired results if the guideline are breached. Since the country started fighting the pandemic in March, the government has repeatedly warned that indiscipline and a laissez-faire attitude are the biggest impediments to containment.
No need for alarm
According to the general trend displayed by countries that have gone past the most devastating stages of the disease’s progression curve, the journey to the peak involves a general growth of new case, death and recovery numbers reported every day. Kenya’s dwindling number of recoveries in peculiar, but the Health ministry says there is no need for alarm. “The recovery rate should not worry you very much. I wish you concentrated on the case fatality rate because that will be telling you the quality of care that you provide to the people,” Mr Patrick Amoth, Health director-general, told journalists on Friday.
The country recorded 39 and 88 recoveries on Friday and yesterday, respectively. This gives an indication of a higher recovery rate this week and in days to come if the trend lasts.
Eastern Africa has both the highest and some of the lowest recovery rates in the continent. Djibouti and Mauritius lead with 97 per cent each, while South Sudan sits close to the bottom with 16 per cent. Djibouti also has a conspicuously low death rate of one per cent. Neighbour Uganda, with 1,032 cases, has a recovery rate of 84 per cent and is yet to report a Covid-19 death.
In the continent, Ghana has been seen as a good example of resilience. With 19,388 cases, the fourth-highest, the country has a high recovery rate of 74 per cent and a low death rate of one per cent.
Kenya has the highest number of Covid-19 cases and deaths in Eastern Africa, a region where two countries, Tanzania and Burundi, have been inconsistent in making their Covid-19 statistics public. The country’s average number of deaths reported in a day has stayed between two and five in a month, consistently furnishing a tally that now stands at 159. This represents about two in five of the deaths in the region.
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
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Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow
Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.