In Kenya after months of a COVID-19 compelled partial lockdown, workplaces just like across the world are slowly opening their doors to employees. This has not been easy as citizens get used to the new normal.
Businesses and organisations are still putting in place measures that ensure workplace safety, health, and environmental arrangements are in accordance with current guidance and best practices as a minimum standard.
Even with news of vaccines being available, COVID-19 cases have kept on rising at an unprecedented rate, the pandemic continues to pose a hardship for the entire country.
For instance, the World Health Organisation (WHO) as at 31st December, had confirmed circa 81.5 million cases, 60 million recoveries and 1.8 million fatalities globally. In Kenya, the Ministry of Health Kenya had confirmed 96,458 cases, 78,737 recoveries and 1,670 fatalities, however, the infection rate had decreased in December compared to the months of October and November.
Early 2020 after COVID-19 was declared a global health pandemic, WHO updated its guidance recommending that governments ask everyone to wear face masks in public areas where there is a risk of transmission of COVID-19 to help reduce the spread of the pandemic disease.
Besides, people were advised to wash their hands with soap for at least 15 seconds or to sanitise them.
Even today, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO insists, “We all have a role to play in protecting COVID-19 vaccines. Every time you decide to stay home, avoid crowds, wear masks and clean your open hands, you are denying the virus the opportunity to spread, and the opportunity to change in ways that could make vaccines less effective.”
The Ministry of Health in Kenya in collaboration with various industry players has prepared a detailed workplace protocol, to adhere to, including the following: work from home for all offices requiring non-contact activities, ensuring the fullest workplace safety measures where employees are required to be physically present, and conducting COVID testing of all employees and their families.
Just as it is the norm for many citizens, COVID-19 protocols of wearing masks, and maintaining social distancing were also flouted in many places.
Face masks then and even today, a majority still wear them at the chins. In bars and restaurants, social distance has become a myth besides the same facilities having been shut for some time. In some public vehicles, it was the same routine, passengers being sandwiched together like a sack of potatoes!
Many kept asking who were the ‘super spreaders’?
Why are bars closed? Why 100 people in church? Stories media should explore. https://t.co/2spNlLjxAE
— Sarah Kimani (@sarahkimani) September 11, 2020
In Kenya, politicians who were to lead by example became the first ones to flout the rules. July 2020, who recalls Johnson Sakaja, had to quit his position as the chairman of Kenya’s Senate committee overseeing the government’s response to the coronavirus crisis? He was caught by police drinking with about 10 others, long after the then 9 p.m.-4 a.m. curfew had set in. He had to be fined Ksh 15,000 for violating the rules.
April, two people who had been placed under a quarantine centre were arrested at a bar where they were found drinking despite social distancing regulations.
Spotted: Kenyans under quarantine at KMTC Mbagathi escape pic.twitter.com/wlGwH3EY4h
— Nation Africa (@NationAfrica) April 21, 2020
I pity the @MOH_Kenya because they understand the logic of mass testing but are constrained by the fear from citizens who know that once they are tested, the financial cost of quarantine and the conditions are terrible.
— Kwame Owino (@IEAKwame) May 2, 2020
Super spreaders in Kenya so far have been privileged people who felt that rules don’t apply to them and that self quarantine was inconvenient. This association of lack of discipline only with the under-privileged who are bearing the brunt of COVID-19…I dunno.
— Ory Okolloh-Mwangi (@kenyanpundit) March 26, 2020
October, who recalls students being sprayed with disinfectant after schools partially resumed education? This was against WHO’s warning given in May to its Covid-19 guidelines that spraying disinfectants which contain toxins on people could be “physically and psychologically harmful”.
An assumably back to school sanitization exercise being conducted on students.
What can you say?
(Video courtesy) pic.twitter.com/iSRXDKDjJC
— The Standard Digital (@StandardKenya) October 12, 2020
Today, in as much as the economy has shown signs of recovery, the health protocols still remain until March.
However, great strides have been made in containing the spread of the virus.
For instance, Kenya is the first country to adopt the Trusted Travel platform for managing travels during the COVID-19 pandemic for travellers.
According to Africa CDC, the platform provides information on travel requirements at the departure and destination ports and access to a list of government-approved laboratories for COVID-19 testing in African countries.
Secondly, the ministry of health launched smart anti-epidemic robot technology to reduce exposure of health workers to COVID-19 patients under their care. This is besides having embraced technology to digitally clear truckers and travelers through a regional cargo and driver tracking system.
To date, over 3,000 health care workers have been infected by COVID-19 in the line of duty while 32 have succumbed to the disease, according to the ministry of health.
February 10, 2020, Kenya’s total of confirmed coronavirus cases hit 102,221 after 173 new cases were announced. The Ministry of Health said it had conducted 1,223, 827 tests since March 2020.
Total recoveries stand at 84,728 and death toll at 1,791.
Even the most protective masks don't eliminate risk of Covid infection. In addition to masking up, we still have to keep our distance, wash our hands, and get vaccinated when it's our turn.
— Dr. Tom Frieden (@DrTomFrieden) February 5, 2021