After it was shown that about 68% of Kenyans want a total lockdown as a measure to combat the COVID-19 Pandemic, President Uhuru Kenyatta has today ordered a Lockdown of the Nairobi County and three other counties hugely affected by the Virus.
The lockdown mainly involves lack of movement in and out of Nairobi. This is a measure strictly placed to deter further spread of the virus among Kenyans living in Nairobi. It had also emerged that a number of people were hugely moving out of Nairobi to the rural areas highly populated by the elderly and the highly vulnerable groups in the society.
A survey conducted last week showed that almost seven in every 10 Kenyans think that the government should enforce a complete lockdown.
A poll by Infotrak Research and Consulting released Sunday showed that 75 per cent of Kenyans are worried about the coronavirus situation.
The poll also found that 68 per cent of the respondents want the government to enforce a complete lockdown, which will result in more than 40 million Kenyans being confined in their houses for two weeks or more.
The survey, however, noted that 35 per cent of Kenyans are not at all prepared should a complete lockdown be enforced.
In East Africa, Rwanda and Uganda are the only countries that have enforced countrywide lockdowns.
President Paul Kagame last week extended the countrywide lockdown for another 15 days to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Kenya has since overtaken Rwanda and is racing ahead of the region, announcing double-digit new infections every three days.
It is not clear if Kenyans really understand the consequences of a countrywide lockdown, but frequent disobedience to follow social distance guidelines have made the government to maintain that the option is still on the table. South Africa is also walking a similar path.
With the new numbers, it is only a matter of time before the government goes that route, and this will mean a change in lifestyle in painful ways that majority of Kenyans are yet to experience.
Until now, the Kenyan government has resorted to a partial lockdown as it agonises on how to deal with the social breakdown and food crisis that is set to come with confining people to their homes for a long period of time.
Already, the government has been conducting a silent pilot of food distribution in informal settings and has been issuing identification passes to people in the essential services in readiness for this eventuality.
Counties have also been asked to provide their food shortage assessments in the event of a countrywide lockdown.
The survey listed Covid-19, food security and access to healthcare as the top three items that the government must address as a matter of priority.
The survey also found that majority of Kenyans, 52 per cent, still think the threat of Covid-19 situation is exaggerated.
This may explain the attitude of some Kenyans who continue with their daily activities and are indifferent to the threat that is getting closer by the day.
STATE OF PREPARATION
Ironically, Coast, Nairobi and Eastern regions are the top three in terms of Kenyans that are not worried at all.
Eastern Kenya had the highest percentage (77 per cent) that want the government to enforce a lockdown.
It is followed by Nairobi (73 per cent), Nyanza (70 per cent), while 68 per cent of residents in Central and Rift Valley think the government should enforce a lockdown.
In overall, more respondents from the rural areas than the urban areas want a lockdown. The Infotrak survey showed that 65 per cent of the responders from the urban areas wanted a lockdown as compared to 70 per cent in rural areas.
The survey showed that 18 per cent of residents at the Coast are not worried at all about the coronavirus situation in Kenya. They were followed by Nairobi (17 per cent) and Eastern (16 per cent).
Retirees are the population who most want a lockdown after the poll found that 80 per cent wanted the government to enforce a lockdown.
They are followed by self-employed people in the formal sector (73 per cent) and the unemployed (70 per cent).
However, only 19 per cent of respondents feel that Kenyans are well-prepared for a total lockdown.
Respondents from North Eastern region were the ones who felt that they were well-prepared while those in Nairobi felt otherwise.
The survey also noted that knowledge gaps on the virus still exist. “While Kenyans seem to have high awareness on Covid-19 and how it can be contracted, there are several issues that still need education and clarification from government,” the survey notes.
It found that 41 per cent of the respondents do not think or are not sure that drinking water frequently can help prevent the virus.
This means that 59 per cent of Kenyans believe that drinking water frequently can help fight the disease.
A rumour that drinking water regularly and keeping mouths moist can protect one from the virus is one of the myths that authorities are fighting to burst.
In addition, 48 per cent of Kenyans think Covid-19 is just like a common flu or cold, while 35 per cent think it is better to take the family upcountry to protect them.
Also the myth that black people cannot contract the deadly virus still exists several months since the world started fighting this narrative. Infotrak found that 20 per cent of the population or two out of every ten think that Africans cannot contract coronavirus.
This is despite the fact that four Kenyans have already died from the virus while more that 100 others have tested positive.
Another knowledge gap identified by the survey is that a third of Kenyans believe that everyone who contracts the virus dies.
So far, at least four people have recovered from the virus in Kenya. Also 26 per cent of Kenyans think young people and children cannot get the coronavirus.
This is despite the fact that a number of the first patients to test positive for the virus were below 35. In addition, one of the four victims was a six-year-old child.
A quarter of the respondents also believe there is a cure for coronavirus. The survey was conducted between March 30 and April 2.
A sample of 831 respondents was interviewed to represent the Kenyan adult population. The poll covered 24 out of the 47 counties.
By gender, 52 per cent of those surveyed were female while 48 per cent were male.