COVID 19Eastern AfricaHealthKenya

Kenya’s surging COVID-19 infections raise concern over possible 4th wave

NAIROBI, (The Southern African Times) – Kenya could be on the verge of the fourth wave of COVID-19 infections that was predicted earlier by local epidemiologists as the capital, Nairobi and eight other counties grapple with a record spike in new cases and fatalities.

Kenya’s Ministry of Health acknowledged recently that a surging COVID-19 caseload, largely driven by the Delta variant and lax observance of containment measures, could have ushered the fourth wave. Mutahi Kagwe, cabinet secretary for health said at a briefing in Nairobi on July 30 that a sudden upsurge in coronavirus positive cases after a brief lull could reverse progress towards flattening the curve.

He disclosed that health facilities in Nairobi were getting overwhelmed amid an influx of COVID-19 patients, adding that demand for oxygen had shot up as mild cases became severe at a faster rate.

Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) late May predicted that the country might experience its fourth COVID-19 wave in July, citing a three months interval since the onset of the pandemic in mid-March 2020. The epidemiologists domiciled at Kenya’s premier medical research body said it was possible to avert the worst outcomes of a fourth wave subject to enhanced adherence to measures aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.

The ministry warned that new upticks in Nairobi, several counties in central Kenya, Rift Valley, eastern and the coastal region, had reversed gains achieved previously toward containing the pandemic. Non-compliance to public health protocols like wearing of face coverings, hygiene and social distancing was fuelling infections in counties that had experienced some level of normalcy.

Mercy Mwangangi, chief administrative secretary in the Ministry of Health said that surging COVID-19 cases in Nairobi, adjacent counties and the coastal region were an indicator the country was on the verge of a fourth wave that could extend throughout August in the absence of mitigation measures.

According to Mwangangi, the fourth wave that was slated to begin in mid-July was inevitable amid enhanced mobility, community transmission of the Delta variant and easing of containment measures. Kenya had improved on genomic sequencing to identify variants of concern besides accelerating vaccination and revamping critical care facilities to help the country withstand the adverse impacts of a fourth wave.

Kenya as of Monday has reported a total of 204,271 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 189,692 recoveries and 3,970 deaths.

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