5 Ways Coronavirus Has Disrupted Everyday Life in Kenya

  • Kenya Red Cross paramedics and volunteers at the Nakuru County Level 5 Hospital during a training exercise on the proper use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) in light of the Covid-19 pandemic on Sunday, March 15, 2020.
    Kenya Red Cross paramedics and volunteers at the Nakuru County Level 5 Hospital during a training exercise on the proper use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) in light of the Covid-19 pandemic on Sunday, March 15, 2020.
    File
  • Ever since the first case of the dreaded Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) was confirmed in Kenya, life in Kenya as we know it has taken a perceptible change.

    With the Sunday, March 15, confirmation of two more cases in Kenya, delivered by President Uhuru Kenyatta himself, Kenya formally joined the list of countries that have been forced to adjust their everyday lives to curb the spread of the disease that threatens a global recession.

    Kenyans are waking up to the reality of the siginificant changes they will need to make to stay safe but also meet their obligations at the same time.

    With the threat imminent, Kenyans have been shocked into making abrupt lifestyle changes, some counterproductive and others guided by Ministry of Health recommendations - while others are still ill-prepared and clutching at straws. 

    A photo of Kenya Red Cross paramedics and volunteers at the Nakuru County Level 5 Hospital during a training exercise on the proper use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) in light of the Covid-19 pandemic on Saturday, March 15, 2020.
    Kenya Red Cross paramedics and volunteers at the Nakuru County Level 5 Hospital during a training exercise on the proper use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) in light of the Covid-19 pandemic on Saturday, March 15, 2020.
    File

    Public transport vehicles

    For most Kenyans, public transport is the only means of travel they know.

    At the height of the Covid-19 outbreak in Wuhan, China, the city temporarily shut down public transport for its 11 eleven million residents in an attempt to halt the spread of the virus.

    Cognisant of the impact that the PSV sector could have in exacerbating the spread of the virus, the Ministry of Health issued a number of guidelines for PSVs to follow to curb the spread of the virus in the country. 

    One of these was the requirement that matatus and buses sanitise the hands of passengers before boarding. While some operators are still catching on, a few conscientious matatu operators have been quick to adhere. 

    Church Services Altered

    According to 2019 Kenya Population and Housing Census data, majority of Kenyans are religious with only 1.6% of total Kenyans not affilitated to any faith.

    While the Ministry of Health has not yet halted religious services, even after President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered the closure of schools, it has issued safety instructions.

    "Normal church services can go on as long as they provide sanitising and handwashing as people go into the worship areas," stated Health CS Mutahi Kagwe on Saturday 13, March.

    Sunday, March 15, saw a majority of churches take the necessary precautionery measures with more spacing between congregants and the use of sanitisers.

    The Catholic Church has moved away from the use of the chalice to administer communion and will instead serve its faithful using small vials, as it says these will be safer. 

    Believers who convene at the Lavington SDA Church will stream services online. The church proposed the mode of worship to reduce the crowds that come to the church. It encouraged its members to use the church mobile payment numbers to offer their tithes and offerings.

    The end of handshakes

    The Covid-19 virus has also forced Kenyans to reevaluate common forms of greetings in favour of those that do not require physical contact.

    President Kenyatta illustrated this while arriving for the Sunday, March 15, press conference where two more Covid-19 cases were announced. Eschewing the normal practice of shaking hands with the officials who were lined up to receive him, Kenyatta opted to clasp his hands together and voice his greetings. 

    The practice, which is gaining traction, is in line with the recommended practice of social distancing which recommends that people keep a distance of at least one metre between them.

    Supermarkets emptied

    Covid-19 has ignited a shopping craze in the country shortly after the first case was confirmed.

    Photos shared widely on social media showed shoppers pushing trolleys with towering shopping as they stocked up in case of a lockdown as happened in the city of Wuhan and in Italy.

    The craze that began on the evening of Saturday, March 14, continued onto the morning of March 15, with eager Kenyans pictured waiting outside supermarket entrances.

    The confirmation of two more cases on Sunday evening further fuelled the panic buying that has seen supermarkets shelves emptied of sanitisers, antiseptics and curiously, tissues.

    A photo of people at a Nairobi supermarket for shopping on Friday, March 13, 2020.
    People flock a Nairobi supermarket for shopping on Friday, March 13, 2020.
    Twitter

    Closure of schools

    Kenyans will have to grapple with yet another major change all learning institutions close and students troop back home.

    Day schools closed on Monday, March 16, with boarding schools expected to have closed by Wednesday, March 18, and all universities by Friday, March 20.

    Parents are already grappling with the question of how to switch to homeschooling as universities scramble to create online learning modules.

    The closure remains indefinite and Kenyans will have to steel themselves for the longhaul.

    Kenyans have no option but to adapt to the changes until the situation is contained - with scientists across the world exploring options for a vaccine and eventually a cure.