A panel consisting of experts from different fields including virologist, Infectious disease physician, a medical anthropologist, a public health specialist and an economist discussed and informed the public on the Covid-19 virus that was declared a pandemic by World Health Organization (WHO) on March 12, 2020.
In a live stream broadcast that reached over 22, 000 people, the UoN experts took time to demystify and correct false information that has been in the public on the corona virus.
Dr. Masika who moderated the session gave a brief introduction on the Corona virus said “It’s named corona virus because it looks like a crown; with a death toll of over 4,900 and over 126,000 infected across the globe.”
A virologist and immunologist, Prof. Omu Anzala took the public through what the corona virus is, what research shows on the virus so far, He noted that bats are the carriers of the viruses which have spilled over to other animals and then to humans, which has then caused human to human transmission.
Corona virus is the second most common virus that causes common cold, the first is rhinovirus. The first spillover was in 2003 from an animal to humans in China. From a latest research conducted in 2019, 10% of bats in Kenya have the corona virus.
Dr. Pamela Godia, Public health specialist gave the health sector response in terms of the corona virus. She noted that Kenya has received testing kits from Africa CDC and WHO. She gave a criteria of who should be tested and urged the country to maintain a high surveillance system at all points of entry. Fever or cough, difficulty breathing on an individual who has recently travelled to an infected country should be tested. Kenyatta National Hospital and Mbagathi hospital are the isolation units so far in Kenya.The elderly and those that are already sick are more susceptible to be infected with Corona virus.
“Educating the public is the most important thing and the one thing that has not been done sufficiently on the corona virus pandemic. We have a lot of false information going round that causes panic and this leads to blaming each other, stereotyping and harassment. Outbreaks and epidemics hinges on human behaviour. We need to understand how people perceive this disease in light of the prevailing culture and context noted Prof. Salome Bukachi, a medical anthropologist.
Dr. Maritim, Infectious disease physician took the public through the preventive measures that should be taken at all times. Hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette and social distancing are some of the measures that should be taken by the public. She also demystified the use of facial masks, how they should be used and how useful they are.
On her part, Dr. Joy Kiiru, the economist expressed her sentiments on how the pandemic is affecting the already affected Kenyan economy. She noted, ‘The economy is already sneezing, the global economy coughs, we sneeze. Global economy is very interdependent.”
An informative question and answer session crowned the informative forum on the corona virus pandemic.