Kenya could be flattening the Covid-19 curve, shows data

Saturday January 02 2021
Covid-19 test.

Residents queue to be tested for Covid-19 in Eastleigh, in Kenya's capital Nairobi, on May 20, 2020. PHOTO | FILE | NMG


For the past one week, Ministry of Health data has indicated a semblance of the flattening of the Covid-19 infections curve and a possibility to contain the virus without putting in place stringent measures.

At the beginning of December, people anticipated a lockdown in some counties for fear of an increase in the number of infections, but the reported number of cases and deaths have been reducing, according to data from the ministry.

When schools reopened partially in October, Kenya had a positivity rate of 3.4 per cent, the Health ministry said, announcing that the country was enroute to flattening the curve.

In November, the number of infections exploded from a few dozens to hundreds, with a positivity rate of 19 per cent, the highest witnessed since the virus was reported in the country.

At the peak, medical workers reported 1,000 new cases in a single day with a double number of deaths.

With this development, governors admitted that the new wave of the virus was threatening to overrun health systems, warning they were on the verge of being overwhelmed and that their health facilities were heading to breaking point “because things are raging out of control and we are not able to transfer patients even from one county to another”.


"Currently, several counties are running on full capacity in the isolation wards, Intensive Care Units and High Dependency Units, meaning they can no longer admit new patients,” said the governors’ council.

Lower positivity rate

However, less than a month later, the positivity rate dropped to just over three per cent.

On Friday, the country reported only 156 new cases, bringing the caseload to 96,614 from a sample size of 4,317 tested in the last 24 hours. Cumulatively, 1,050,984 samples have been tested since March.

Sadly, the country has lost 11 more patients to the virus, bringing the total fatality to 1,681 Kenyans who have so far succumbed to the virus.

Kenyan numbers are reducing even as infections in other countries continue to soar by the thousands daily, devastating health care systems and economies.

Is this a sign that Kenya could be flattening the curve? And how long does it take for a curve to be flattened?

However, during Friday's briefing, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said the ministry has not yet fully conclude that the curve has flattened given that there has been a beehive of activities during the festive season.

“The timing of the drop is not enough to conclude that we have flattened the curve, many people had gone for the holidays and most people were not at work, let’s wait for them to return for us to conclusively give a report,” Mr Kagwe said.

He said it takes between 14 to 21 days for a country to be officially announced to have flattened the curve. However, Kenya is on the sixth day.

“We are hoping that it will go this way all the way for two weeks. However, until the tenth day or post the return to schools and work, then we can comfortably say that the curve is flattened,” he said.

Key factors

When the government reopened schools for Form Four, Grades eight and four, the situation was almost similar to the last week of 2020 and with just a few days to school resumption for all students and pupils, again, the curve seems flattened.

Another determining factor for a flattened curve is the number of patients admitted in hospitals and in very critical care.

Out of the 661 active cases in the country as at January 1, 2021, about 47 were in critical care and in need of ventilation and oxygen supplementation.

The World Health Organization recommends that for a curve to be flattened, a country has to have a positivity rate of five per cent and below for about two or three consecutive weeks. Thereafter, a country may now consider easing some of the containment measures and reopen.