Three in every four Kenyans already exposed to COVID – MoH

At least 75 per cent of Kenyans have already been exposed to Covid-19 virus attributable to exposure driven by poor adherence to the health guidelines, a new report shows.

The analysis, developed by the Ministry of Health (MoH) and scientists from the Kenya Medical Research Institute-Wellcome Trust and dubbed ‘Explaining Covid-19 Waves in Kenya’, also says a fourth wave is likely to hit the country this year.

“The most plausible explanation for the pattern of cases is a combination of differential adherence to measures in 2020 followed by a sharp increase in virus transmissibility in 2021. This is consistent with that observed in other countries affected by variants of concern,” the ministry says.

Leading pathologist Dr Ahmed Kalebi has advised the government to carry out antibody tests across the country to assess distribution of natural immunity from previous infection by location and population segment.

“A fourth Covid-19 wave in Kenya before the end of 2021 would only be likely if a variant arises with substantial further enhancement in transmissibility or immune escape, such as the Delta variant, or significant waning of immunity in those previously exposed,” the report notes.

Read also: The World Bank, AU strike deal to speed up vaccine purchase and deployment

Kenya has experienced three major waves since the disease was reported on March 13, 2020, which according to the analysis, were mainly driven by behaviours of two social groups – Kenyans in low and high social economic status.

“The higher socioeconomic status group represents Kenyans with a smartphones and whose movements were easily captured by the Google mobility reports last year. The lower social economic group are Kenyans without smartphones,” the authors said.

The analysis suggests poor Kenyans drove the first wave in August last year because they did not reduce their movements much during initial restrictions and reverted to normal life immediately after the lockdown as they could not work from home.

The second wave in November was triggered by the higher social economic status group returning to pre-Covid-19 mobility patterns, while the third wave in March this year was blamed on the Alpha variant.

The latest data from the Health Ministry show that the country has so far confirmed over 179,000 cases with a cumulative 1.9 million tests conducted. This is after another 583 people tested positive for the virus from a sample size of 6,686, posting a positivity rate of 8.7 per cent in the last 24-hour period.

At the same time, 23 more patients succumbed to the virus, bringing the cumulative fatalities to 3,484.

A total of 85 patients have recovered from the virus, bringing the total recoveries to total recoveries to 123,050.

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