Maintain social distancing and keep COViD-19 at bay

Dr. Moses Masika, a lecturer at the University of Nairobi, School of Medicine.

There is need for Kenyans to adjust how they live or work to ensure social distancing is maintained in the wake of coronavirus disease (COViD-19) outbreak.
Already Kenya has 28 confirmed cases of COViD-19 as of 25th March, 2020. When the first confirmed COViD-19 case was reported in Kenya, the the government announced measures to fight the disease and the measures have been continously been reviewed to help stop the spread of the disease.
One of the measures was a ban on all international passenger flights in the country a move Dr. Moses Masika, a lecturer in the Department of Medical Microbiology at the University of Nairobi says was well thought.
"At this point our best chance is to prevent more cases by reducing the number of infected people coming in from other countries,"Dr. Masika says.
According to Dr. Masika, there is also the need to prevent local transmission by isolating the sick and placing exposed persons under quarantine.
"Everyone needs to practice handwashing and environmental hygiene in their personal spaces and also ensure social distancing by avoiding any crowds be they social, religious or work-related,"
He says doing so will ensure that new cases are kept low enough for the country’s health system to handle without the need for extreme social disruption such as a complete shutdown.

Screening for COViD-19
Dr. Masika says screening depends on the context (time and place).
In Kenya, screening is done by assessing exposure and any symptoms of acute respiratory illness.
Exposure could be from travel to an area with widespread transmission of COVID-19 or close contact with anyone who is known or suspected to have COVID-19.
The symptoms include fever, cough, tiredness, headache or sorethroat. A few people may also have difficulty in breathing.
Persons who meet the screening/case criteria then undergo laboratory testing to confirm if they have COVID-19 or not.
This screening criteria is appropriate for Kenya for now as we do not have evidence of widespread/community transmission.
If we progress into community transmission, the screening criteria will need to be reviewed because it would be nearly impossible to determine who has been exposed or not.
In such circumstances we may have to test anyone who presents with a particular set of symptoms (the case definition) with or without evidence of exposure through travel or contact.

The young, the elderly and COViD-19
Studies are still being done to understanda how the virus affects the body and how it responds to it.
Although all age groups, including the young, can get infected with COVID-19, the elderly are more likely to suffer a severe form of the disease which maybe characterized with breathing difficulties, septic shock (dangerously low blood pressure) and organ failure.
This risk has been linked to underlying conditions such as chronic heart or lung diseases, hypertension, diabetes and cancer; which are more prevalent in the elderly.
The elderly are also likely to have a weaker immune system which predisposes them to infection.

Care for COViD-19 patients
Most patients with COVID-19 will recover with little or no medical intervention as they only suffer a mild to moderate illness.
A few patients do require supportive care which involves treatment of fever and pain, fluid supplementation, oxygen therapy and in some instances, mechanical ventilation in ICU.
This is to ensure that the patients are comfortable and to preserve lives of those who are critically ill.
As of 26th March, 2020 at 12:09 GMT 488,055 COViD-19 cases had been reported worldwide, 22,049 deaths had been recorded with 117,603 people having recovered from the disease.

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