The defiance against safety measures rolled out by the State to limit the spread of Covid-19 has revealed missteps in the whole campaign that need to be addressed if the hard work done so far is to bear long-term fruit.
From Old Town in Mombasa to Nairobi’s Eastleigh estate, now on lockdown, government authorities have encountered resistance to safety drives with many wananchi in these areas sticking to their old ways despite the deadly nature of the global pandemic, whose toll continues to grow daily.
For instance, many in these locations have failed to maintain social distance or use protective devices such as face masks yet the disease is highly contagious. Precautionary action such as mass testing has also been defied by many although it could help save the lives of those diagnosed with the disease in good time.
This plainly demonstrates that awareness and sensitisation about Covid-19 have not achieved the desired effects and much more needs to be done to ensure that knowledge translates to behaviour change.
Measures such as testing and quarantine have been perceived as a form of punishment and, as a result, many are not willing to step forward to be examined for fear of becoming traumatised by confinement and subsequent rejection by neighbours.
The government needs to correct this by clearing the negative beliefs about Covid-19 through more aggressive public education campaigns to eliminate stigma. Information helps to remove stigma about the disease and this is likely to encourage more citizens to voluntarily come forward to be screened for the disease.
The public also needs to play its part by observing the rules and regulations meant to flatten the transmission curve.