About Covid-19 Symposium
In March 2020, Kenya confirmed the first case of Corona Virus Disease at a time when many parts of the world were experiencing some of their worst case loads. There was general panic and concern amongst members of the public following reports in the news media on the experiences of other countries. In these countries, there were many fatalities, with reports that their health care systems could not cope with the numbers of those infected. Western media outlets were reporting that less privileged countries, including Kenya, were going to have similar or worse experiences, with some even predicting that people would be dying on the streets in their hundreds, if not thousands daily.
Like most countries, Kenya instituted a raft of measures aimed at curbing the spread of the virus, and mitigating the social economic effects of the unfolding pandemic. These include suspension of air travel into the country, closure of schools, restrictions of movement in and out of hot-spot regions, nation-wide dusk to dawn curfew, restriction of public and social gatherings including worship, weddings and funerals, among others. As the pandemic evolved, more measures were introduced to respond to the evolving health and socio-economic dynamics associated with the pandemic.
Despite putting these measures in place, the country continued registering a steady rise in the number of new infections and deaths; the economy has taken a major hit, while the socio-economic life of the country remains severely disrupted.
Overall, the pandemic put to the test the country’s ability to deal with this highly infectious disease of international concern.
As the crisis unfolded, it became clear that beyond the direct health effects associated with COVID-19, there were indirect effects owing to inadequate, ill-prepared or under-performing health systems and, the associated socio-economic disruptions, leading to loss of livelihoods for many, disruption of social activities.
The priority response for most countries was scaling up public health interventions to slow the transmission chains and prevent a national outbreak that would overwhelm health systems and the resulting ripple effects.
Countries around the globe also put in place stringent measures to mitigate against the effects of COVID-19 which included diversion of all available resources towards fighting the pandemic, and alleviating the associated socio-economic impact.