Scientists have warned of a sixth wave of Covid-19 and asked Kenyans not to drop their guard.
In its 15th advisory, the eminent committee of the Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB) says the next Covid-19 wave will begin at the end of April, reach its peak around May 17 and decline after June 2.
The panel says the wave will take about 40 days and is likely to be milder than the previous ones.
“The likely daily average infections will be 500 and the number of people projected to get the virus is 20,000, with total fatalities in the entire period being 349,” LREB Eminent Committee chairman Khama Rogo said.
Prof Rogo added in his statement that vaccination drives need to be ramped up, especially among elderly people and those with underlying health conditions.
“We should increase vaccination efforts, especially booster shots for adults, particularly the high-risk groups,” he said.
Some counties that barely had new Covid-19 cases have started registering them.
Dr Steven Ouko, who is in charge of the Covid-19 isolation unit in Kakamega county, told the Daily Nation that his team recorded five new cases in 48 hours.
“The cases coincide with the prediction made by the LREB committee. We had just one patient in our unit in the last two weeks but the number is growing. This also follows a recent training on active screening. I had taken my leave but have to go back to work,” he said yesterday.
Dr Ouko added that the patients in the isolation unit are elderly, and advised the government to review the relaxation of containment measures, especially wearing of masks.
“Masking prevented the spread of the virus and other respiratory illnesses like tuberculosis. People are no longer washing hands as they used to. Even diarrhoea cases are on the increase,” he said.
The doctor added that vulnerable people must be protected against the deadly disease.
“Old people were affected by all the Covid-19 waves. The very young were hardest hit by the Omicron wave and those with underlying conditions such as diabetes are also at risk.”
Dr Ouko said despite the country being in a political season in which social distancing is largely disregarded, it should not lose people to the virus.
Dr Shem Otoi, the mathematician who engineered the Otoi-Narima model that predicted the sixth Covid-19 wave, said Kenyans are taking risks.
“We accurately predicted the five waves yet people are behaving like the war on the virus has already been won,” he said yesterday.
The new wave is attributed to a number of factors such as ignoring public health protocols and guidelines, reopening of schools political activities and the low vaccination rate.
“Whether the wave will be driven by Omicron sub-variants or recombinants is not known. We also can’t tell if it is a completely new variant. We only know it will occur. There should be continuous surveillance through sequencing,” he said.
While the Ministry of Health says the country has fully vaccinated about 30 per cent of the population, it is far from achieving the 70 per cent global target by June.
In Shanghai, China and Scotland in the UK, media reports have indicated a surge in cases. A lockdown was imposed on Shanghai.
Dr Ouko advised hospitals that had shut their isolation centres to reopen them so as not to be caught offguard when the new wave hits home.