The confusion that followed the safety measures announced by the government on Monday to limit the spread of the coronavirus is regrettable.
President Uhuru Kenyatta declared that movement of people in and out of the Nairobi Metropolitan Area, Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale has been canceled for 21 days to slow down infections. The announcement, however, caused major confusion on who would be affected by the order. Many took to social media with queries on whether they would be allowed to ferry goods in and out of the affected areas or whether they would be allowed to seek medical attention in facilities outside the areas covered by the restrictions.
Although the decision was the right one, the message was lost to many Kenyans due to lack of clarity. Some of the government officers who sought to respond to the concerns raised by the public ended up giving conflicting interpretations of the order, which did not help matters. Although a clearer picture has now emerged, the lesson here is that the government should ensure that its future communication is unequivocal.
But even as the State puts its act together on the directive, citizens should also play their part and avoid actions that could easily fan new infections and trigger total lockdowns. For instance, those finding underhand methods and winding routes to enter or leave designated areas should desist as they can pose health hazards to those who interact with them if they happen to be infected. They too stand the risk of infection when they use these routes, some of which are crowded.
It is clear that some citizens are still defying the curfew and health hygiene protocols. For example, social media platforms were yesterday full of videos of citizens moving in and out of Nairobi despite the government directive. Others also still crowd public places without requisite protective equipment such as face masks. This kind of behaviour is retrogressive on the part of such citizens and ought to be discouraged. There is no heroism is such acts which endanger others and pose a threat to the economic wellbeing of the citizenry.
This pandemic is real and its consequences are dire. Thousands of lives, including those of six Kenyans, have been lost to the virus worldwide and it would be irresponsible to carry on with the current attitudes which do little to stop the spread of the disease.