A team of experts from the University of Nairobi held a public forum to enlighten the masses on the deadly coronavirus that has killed 4,900 and infected 132,000 people globally.
The experts drawn from different fields reiterated the need for personal hygiene to stay protected from the new coronavirus that was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Prof. Omu Anzala, a virologist and immunologist at KAVI-Institute of Clinical Research (KAVI-ICR) said coronaviruses, which he nicknamed as Eshimala-Bandu (which means finish people in Luhya dialect), initially targets epithelial cells lining the upper respiratory tract.
He noted that bats are the ancestral hosts of all the known coronavirus lineages with transmission to animals, birds, and humans.
According to research carried out by Prof. Anzala together with a team of researchers from KAVI-ICR in 2019, it was found out that 10% of bats in Kenya have coronavirus.
Prof. Salome Bukachi, from the Institute of Anthropology, Gender and African Studies at UoN insisted on the need for communication from credible sources, instead of spreading myths and staying away from facts on coronavirus.
“There needs to be consistent timely provision of information and dialogue about the disease using relevant channels and trusted sources. Stigma, threats, panic, rumours and misconceptions will not help fight coronavirus,” Prof. Bukachi said.
Dr. Joy Kiiru, a senior lecturer at the School of Economics highlighted the economic impact of coronavirus to the economy.
She said the virus is not only infecting people, but is also infecting the economies.
“There has been a serious disruption in the supply chain meaning that jobs are at stake. The global economy is interdependent and there are widespread fears of recession,” Dr. Kiiru said.
On the health system response to the outbreak, Dr.Pamela Godia from the School of Public Health said there was a covid-19 contingency plan where KES 300 million had been approved by the National Treasury to fight coronavirus.
“Testing of samples from suspected cases is currently being undertaken at National Influenza Laboratories. In addition, testing kits and reagents for testing have been received through the support of Africa CDC and WHO,” Dr. Godia noted.
Dr. Marybeth Maritim from the School of Medicine outlined prevention strategies and care of persons infected by covid-19.
She singled out isolation, being quarantined, and seeking early medical attention immediately coronavirus like symptoms are noticed as ways to stop the spread the pandemic.