Mr Joseph Abuga Muranga, a shoeshiner at Nairobi’s Khoja roundabout, is having a hard time.
“My clients are so scared of coronavirus that they do not want me to touch their ankles. They are removing their shoes and giving them to me so as to minimise contact. Others are just throwing the money to me,” he said.
Welcome to the new realities of life. Kenya has banned major public events, including rallies and church ‘crusades’, after confirming its first case of the new coronavirus. The patient landed in Kenya from the United States.
From avoiding handshakes to stocking up on previously unheard of sanitisers, it has been a steep learning curve for ordinary Kenyans as the virus affects their work, love and life in general.
The United Nations complex in Gigiri, Nairobi, has scaled down in-house staff.
“Managers at the offices are required to implement remote working compatible with business continuity in order to reduce personnel exposures to transit and other crowded areas,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Friday.
The roughly 4,600 employees at the Gigiri complex will be expected to work remotely for up to three days a week, Mr Dujarric added at a press briefing at UN headquarters in New York.
“The full implementation of telecommuting…will significantly reduce the staffing footprint of the Nairobi complex, therefore reducing risk to personnel.”
The UN Environment Programme (Unep) and the UN Human Settlements Programme known as Habitat are based in Nairobi. Several UN regional offices also operate from the Kenyan capital.
Panic-buying has triggered supermarkets to issue restrictions on the number of items one can purchase.
It has also brought out the entrepreneurial nature of Kenyans.
Some are buying the masks from supermarkets and reselling them.
“Every customer will be allowed to buy a maximum of three packs of the products. A few entrepreneurial customers have been taking advantage of the Covid-19 panic to buy particular items in bulk and reselling them,” Tuskys Supermarket chief executive Dan Githua said.
“In some instances, the exploitative sales of the items at wildly inflated prices of up to up to 200 per cent has been happening right outside our supermarket doors.”
Organisers of many funeral ceremonies are warning mourners against shaking hands.
The Ministry of Health has advised those having drinks in bars to keep a distance of at least a metre from one another.
Mombasa County government has directed nightclubs to remain closed for the next 30 days as a measure to contain the spread of the virus.
“The sweetness of drinking is by sitting as a group and enjoying it together. Sitting a metre away from the nearest person is strange. I’d rather sit in my house and enjoy my drink,” Mr Peter Mwangi said.
Ms Nereah Auma said if she has to do her hair, it will be at her house, not in a salon.
“Better take care of yourself than waiting for the system to isolate. I will not go to church or supermarket. I’d rather go to a kiosk. I am cautious when it comes to my health,” she said.
Unfortunately, what Kenyans are not being told is that with or without frequenting public places, one can still get the virus if he or she does not observe basic hygiene.
WHO recommends that when at home, make sure the house is well ventilated, especially the kitchen and living room where multiple family members converge.
“When in self quarantine, one should be in well-ventilated room. If not, maintain a distance of at least a metre from other family members, minimise use of shared spaces and cutlery and ensure shared spaces – kitchen and bathroom – are well-ventilated,” WHO says in its guidelines.
Dr Majid Twahir, the associate dean for clinical affairs and chief of staff at Aga Khan University Hospital, says a room must be designated for exclusive use. The same should be the case with a bathroom, if possible.
“Every surface you cough on or touch could become contaminated with the virus. You can use a mixture of four parts water and one part bleach to clean. You should also wear a mask and not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, utensils, towels or bedding,” he said.
Aga Khan University Hospital gave a hotline number (+254 (0)709931700) specifically for coronavirus.
The hotline will help provide relevant information on the virus.
The step was taken to give clarity, pre-empt misinformation and reduce anxiety.
The hospital’s infectious disease experts will provide information on the basics of protecting oneself from coronavirus.
the virus to what to do in case you suspect you have the virus.