Coronavirus in Kenya, Myths and How to Stay Safe

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Written By El Gwaro

On Friday the 13th; a day synonymous with bad luck, the first case of Coronavirus was confirmed in Kenya. What followed were events we only witness in movies.

The Nairobi Stock Exchange experienced a 120 Billion shillings wipeout, sanitizer and soap shelves in supermarkets started getting cleared and as typical for Kenyans, social media was washed with coronavirus-related memes.

It’s quite clear there’s a little panic in the air, but the memes are keeping people alive per se. Yet we must take serious precautions to protect ourselves from this pandemic as WHO puts it.

The myth that Africans are immune to the virus was debunked yesterday. Yet that’s only a tip of the iceberg in the misinformation spreading online.

This is why I seriously propose that each of us takes a keen interest in understanding the virus, how it spreads, its incubation period, signs and symptoms, statistics of recovery and death, ways of preventing and containing the virus among other things.

And don’t just read from every Tom’s, Dick’s and Harry’s blog out there or forwards in WhatsApp; use credible sources such as WHO, Healthline, and WebMD.

Obviously, this is just a regular blog that publishes content for youths and university students. But for this case, we will briefly point the basic facts about Coronavirus, and most importantly how you can stay safe, backed with information from credible sources.

Let’s kick in, shall we?

First, there is no need to panic. Panicking leads to misinformation which distracts people from understanding the right way to prevent infection.

For instance, people think face masks prevent you from contracting the disease; they don’t really. We shall get there in a minute.

What is Corona Virus (COVID-19)?

Simply, it is a family of viruses that originated from animals and that leads to serious respiratory issues in form of breathing problems, fever, coughs, pneumonia and in severe cases; kidney failure and death (WHO). Other previously identified viruses under the same family include MERS-CoV and SERs- CoV.

How to get Coronavirus

  • Inhaling the droplets produced when an infected person sneezes.
  • Touching infected surfaces and later touching mouth, nose or eyes. (CDC)

What do you feel when you are infected?

  • Dry Cough
  • Fever
  • Breathing problems
  • Sore Throat
  • Running nose (WHO

In case you have any of the above symptoms persisting or getting worse for 2 days consecutively visit the hospital while practicing self-quarantine.

Point to note

There are two ways the virus is contracted, through breathing infected air or through touching infected surfaces then touching your face.

While face masks might protect you from the former, they don’t prevent you from touching your face which by the way is the more dominant means of getting the infection.

On average, people touch their faces 10 times in one hour. When you put on a face mask, you are likely to touch your face more often due to constant adjustments to the uncomfortable masks.

Also, common facemasks are not designed to block out viral particles (Livescience). Facemasks especially (surgical) are however best at preventing infected persons from spreading the virus.

Myths about Corona (COVID-19)

1. Myth: Coronavirus infection is a death sentence

No, it’s not and that’s why we need to stop panicking. The media is more inclined to publish content about deaths from coronavirus because that’s what gets viral. They are in for the money guys, giving you the impression that the virus is wiping out the world.

The truth is this. There are way more people who have survived coronavirus compared to those that have succumbed. As of Saturday, 14th March there are 71,715 recoveries and 5,526 deaths out of 146742 confirmed cases.

Thus about 50% have fully recovered while only 4% have succumbed (John Hopkins University). The rest are still recovering and it seems it’s slowly getting under control especially since China the epicenter of the virus has reduced cases of new infections to almost nil.

Based on these statistics, there is more likelihood of surviving and thus we ought to be more optimistic. In fact, 80% of the recovered cases did so without special treatment (TheGuardian).

2. Myth: Garlic and Vitamin C supplements can prevent infection

Every day we get forwarded messages about what to do to prevent all manner of diseases yet most of these ‘tips’ aren’t backed by science. The coronavirus case hasn’t been spared either

Some messages have made rounds in social media claiming that taking Vitamin C supplements can prevent you from contracting the virus. This is not yet scientifically proven (Livescience)

While Vitamin C strengthens your normal immune system, it does not, however, prevent you from getting infected. Simply coming into contact does the trick.

Also, there is no evidence that garlic and products such as sesame oil and saline can prevent you from acquiring the virus (Centura).

3. Myth: Products from China will infect you with the virus

Take a look around your room, I’m pretty sure you can identify at least 10 things that are made from China. They all came from the epicenter of the virus where they were handled by the Chinese during processing and packaging.

So isn’t it logical that we can get infected by touching any new products from China?

Wrong. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,

“There is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over days or weeks at ambient temperatures”


In short, the conditions and time for shipping of products from China to the country would significantly reduce the chances of the virus on products-surfaces (in case they were infected) to survive.

Now onto the good stuff

How to prevent yourself from getting Coronavirus

I wanna be as brief as possible here but find a more comprehensive guide at CDC

  1. Avoid public places as much as possible. Markets, crowded streets, parties, etc.
  2. Wash your hands with soap thoroughly and regularly.
  3. Avoid being in too much contact with people close to you. (Not forever. Just till the virus is gone)
  4. Use face masks, particularly 3-layer disposable surgical masks. N95 and N99 respirators can work too. (Livescience).
  5. Avoid touching your face as much as possible. This is hard but you’ve gotta do it if you value health. To reduce or even stop face touching you need to constantly be mindful of your intention to keep your hands away (Healthline). Keep your hands busy, put on gloves (keeps you aware) and use a scented sanitizer.
  6. Use a scented hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol or more.
  7. Avoid poorly ventilated rooms.
  8. Stock up groceries and other daily use products (CNN) to reduce the number of times you will need to go in public places to purchase them.
  9. Avoid sharing household
  10. Clean all high touch surfaces in your house regularly

In case you feel sick and have previously visited a coronavirus patients’ ward or a country with coronavirus cases, you need to protect the people around you by:

  • Self-quarantine: Avoid public places and use respirators while in public
  • Alert the health department and seek medical assistance. Call the Ministry of Health emergency teams on 0729471414 and 0732353535 for help.
  • Stay at home until instructed to leave by your medical officer.

While you take vigilant protective measures to stay safe from corona, remember that you need to have the right information and updates. A credible resource for this information is this World Health Organization Corona Q&A webpage. Stay woke.

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