Covid-19: Experts call for the return of masks

by Amref Health Africa

Experts from the Lake Region Economic Bloc now say there is an urgent need for reinstating Covid-19 rapid testing, mass vaccination, and the mask mandates.

This follows a surge of Covid-19 cases in the country albeit with mild symptoms as data from the Health ministry shows there are fewer admissions to hospitals.

In the 19th advisory of the LREB Eminent Committee, the experts warn that the political activities in the country and the laxity of health facilities countrywide on containing Covid-19 is a ticking time bomb.

“The smartness of the coronavirus has been amply demonstrated in the last two and half years. It strikes every time we lower our guard. It is now striking again,” said Prof Khama Rogo, chairperson of the committee.

The LREB team, with the help of its modeling expert, Dr Shem Otoi, has correctly predicted all the six Covid-19 waves in the country and their latest advisory indicates the need to go a step back and reconsider enforcing containment measures.

“With increased crowding, passion, and movement in the country due to political activity, business as usual from the health front is unacceptable. It is time for the multi-sectoral team at the national and county levels to up their game, to avoid resorting to lockdowns and the deleterious impact on our economy,” said Prof Rogo.

Endemic stage

Amref Chief Executive Githinji Gitahi told the Nation yesterday that the country was in an ‘almost’ endemic stage of the pandemic.

This means that it will be part of our daily lives for some time.

“We need to trace our steps and keep the highest standards of sanitisation and continue washing our hands, wearing our masks in crowded places and social distance,” he said.

“The most important thing is to have as many people be vaccinated because that is a permanent solution to Covid-19, we can ask people to wear masks but that is only needed temporarily where there are crowds. Those who had their two doses and are at high risk of getting the disease should be encouraged to go for a booster shot,” said Dr Gitahi.

The LREB Eminent Committee also touts vaccination as the most important tool that will be used to fight Covid-19.

“It should be noted that those who took their second vaccine doses during the Omicron wave (fifth wave) are now exhibiting waning immunity. They need booster doses, especially for the most vulnerable,” said Prof Rogo.

The positivity rate since the beginning of the sixth wave has gone up to 10 per cent, recorded twice in the past five days. While there have been no patients in the country’s intensive care units admitted for Covid-19 in a long time, the country now has five patients admitted to ICU and three others who are in need of supplementary oxygen.

Data from the Health ministry as of June 13 shows that there has been no recent death from Covid-19 and the cumulative death toll remains at 5,651.

Article first published on

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