By Mary Hearty

The steady increase of COVID-19 cases in Kenya has caused alarm since the government eased some of the strict protocols put in place to contain the pandemic.

The numbers in Kenya now stand at 23,202 reported cases with 9,327 recoveries and 388 deaths.

World Health Organization (WHO) in Kenya collaborated with Canadian High Commission to address this surging concern during a virtual briefing held on August 4, on Strengthening Kenya’s response to COVID-19.

During the briefing, Lisa Stadelbauer, Canadian High Commissioner to Kenya showed her concern towards this by stating that Canada has been watching Kenya’s COVID-19 trend closely since the first case was reported in March.

Again, she addressed the country’s grappling economy which has led to many job losses, and how Canada has been supporting Kenya through funding during this crisis.

“It is a very challenging time since all sectors have been affected in Kenya and globally, and many people have lost their jobs due to this pandemic,” Stadelbauer explained.

She noted that Canada will support Kenya through Canadian dollars 1.5 million fund to help WHO fight the Coronavirus in Kenya.

Specifically, the grant will be used to strengthen Kenya’s surveillance and testing capability with a focus on vulnerable population and contact tracing across the counties.

The grant will also be used to build the capacity of health workers to engage communities and work with community and religious leaders, women, youth and special groups to inform communities about how to embrace protective measures and practice safe behavior. Radio messaging will be used to reach groups in remote locations, using local languages. Additional technical personnel will be deployed to the counties to support these activities.

Moreover, she said: “we started setting up handwashing stations in March to help Kenyans maintain hygiene in public places by washing their hands as recommended by WHO.”

Stadelbauer also advised African countries to support each other through sharing of knowledge and experiences gained from handling infectious diseases in the continent to help fight Coronavirus in Kenya and Africa as a whole.

“African countries have a lot of experiences in handling infectious diseases. This knowledge could help stop the spread of this virus,” she emphasized.

Additionally, she advised the Ministry of Health to continue sensitizing Kenyans about washing their hands, keeping distance, staying at home and wearing of masks especially in public places.

Rudi Eggers, WHO representative to Kenya, who was also present expressed his gratitude for the support they have received from the Canadian High Commission.

“We will make sure health workers get right training and provide them with the right protective kits to protect themselves during their line of duty,” Eggers said addressing the surge in health workers infection.

Other challenges WHO discussed include inability to trace C0VID-19 contacts. He said: “People are afraid to give names due to fear of being placed in harsh quarantine environments.”

Furthermore, it was noted that asymptomatic people could be spreading the virus to others without knowing and the delayed test results could also be a factor of disease spreading.

WHO also encouraged the public to consume the right information concerning COVID-19 from credible sources like mainstream media, WHO and Ministry of Health among others, to stop misinformation and help contain the disease.