Uhuru Faces Tough Test in Lifting Lockdown

  • President Uhuru Kenyatta giving his Madaraka Day Address at State House on June 1, 2020.
    President Uhuru Kenyatta giving his Madaraka Day Address at State House on June 1, 2020.
  • On Saturday, May 23, President Uhuru Kenyatta gave the strongest hint that he was looking to open up the ¬†Kenyan economy which could involving the lifting of some of the lockdown measures imposed to curb the spread of Covid-19.

    Flash forward to Sunday, July 5, and former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale painted a picture of the dilemma the Head of State was facing as he prepares to deliver his highly anticipated speech on Monday, July 6.

    "If President Uhuru maintains the Coronavirus restrictions, Covid-19 will not go away. If he eases those restrictions Covid-19 will still not go away," Khalwale tweeted.

    As of July 5, Kenya's Covid-19 stood at 7,886 after a cumulative total of 189,263 tests were carried out.

    Health CAS Rashid Aman addressing a presser at Afya House on Monday May 11, 2020.
    Health CAS Rashid Aman addressing a presser at Afya House on Monday, May 11, 2020.

    Health CAS Rashid Aman announced that Kenya was experiencing the steepest part of the infection rate curve based on the statistics.

    He further revealed that the rising number of cases implied that many more people would be in need of critical care which in turn would potentially overwhelm health care facilities across the country.

    Across the world, countries that have contemplated ending or easing lockdown have conducted more tests and have been reasonably persuaded that the curve is flattening.

    On June 6, President Uhuru warned that Covid-19 infections would surge if lockdown measures are eased.

    Iran could be used as a practical case study, after it reported a record number of daily coronavirus cases as a surge in infections swept across the country following a relaxation of its lockdown in May and June 2020.

    The Iranian Health Ministry recorded 3,574 new infections on June 4, which was nearly 400 cases higher than its previous record.

    President Uhuru's toughest question could be argued out as to whether or not health facilities across the various counties are equipped to handle the possibility of a surge in cases.

    On July 4, Council of Governors Chairman Wycliffe Oparanya described the County Government of Kiambu as a model county worth emulating in the fight against Covid-19 and congratulated county boss James Nyoro for surpassing the 300 Covid-19 isolation and treatment bed capacity stipulated by Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe.

    Various counties have been ramping up their level of preparedness by procuring Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds and the necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

    The PPEs are particularly important as easing the lockdown would require a massive testing and isolation exercise as was carried out by the South African government when it started easing up its lockdown, managing to screen over 7 million people.

    Observes indicate that when and how to ease lockdown has to be informed by data and from the rising trend in the number of cases, leaving the Head of State with a tough choice to make.

    An image of President Uhuru Kenyatta
    President Uhuru Kenyatta chairing a virtual meeting with Governors on Thursday 25 June 2020.
    PSCU