It is a race against time now as scientists and health specialists try to halt the spread of the deadly coronavirus that emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December. Why should Kenya care?
Kenya’s trade relations with China play a key role. In fact, based on the volume of air traffic between the two countries, Kenya has the continents sixth-highest risk of getting a case of imported coronavirus from China.
Kenya has dealt with suspected cases of coronavirus but none has been confirmed.
Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has urged Kenyans to avoid non-essential travel to the coronavirus-hit Chinese city of Wuhan until the situation there is contained.
What is Coronavirus?
According to WHO, Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses. They can cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
The novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. It is believed to have been transmitted from an animal to a human being.
Coronaviruses originate in animals like camels, civets and bats.
Usually, these viruses are not transmissible to humans. However, sometimes the virus mutates and then it can get transmitted from animals to humans. This was the case with the SARS epidemic in the early 2000s.
How Can You Protect Yourself Against Coronavirus
To reduce the risk of spread of coronavirus, members of the public are advised to adhere to the following measures:
• Wash your hands regularly with soap under running water.
• Cover your mouth and nose properly with handkerchief or tissue paper when sneezing and/or coughing. You may also cough into your elbow if a handkerchief is not available.
• Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.
• Avoid self-medication, report to the nearest health facility when you experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms.
• Healthcare workers are always advised to observe standard infection prevention and control measures when attending to patients and take a travel history.
How Far Are We in Dealing With Coronavirus
There is no vaccine yet available for the novel coronavirus. However, doctors advise that a patient gets supportive care to manage and relieve symptoms. China’s Bureau of Disease Prevention and Control says that the virus is highly infectious. However, the agency does not consider the disease to be as virulent as the one that caused the SARS outbreak in 2003.
Kenya is currently unable to test for this particular virus.
However, WHO has promised to deliver reagents to help countries like Kenya be able to test for the virus.
This is what the minister for health said about Kenya’s preparedness.
“I can confirm we are safe and there has been no case of coronavirus. Our hospitals are well equipped and ready to handle this virus,” Cecil Kariuki.
There is evidently a thin line in managing this kind of information so that it doesn’t cause panic and telling the truth so that Kenyans know exactly what is happening.
Where Can I Get Information?
The ministry of health is giving updates but they are not regular. The World Health Organization has a website for outbreak news. If you still desire more information you can check the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention which has an epidemic tracker. For information on statistics, this is the website to look them up.