The number of Covid-19 cases is rising again in East Africa, although countries are turning to vaccination to prevent another round of restrictions.
Kenya’s positivity rate has risen from zero to over five percent in the past month, a level that the World Health Organization (WHO) often considers threatening.
Kenya on Thursday recorded a 7.2 percent positivity rate, the highest in four months. And the average positivity rate over the past seven days is 5.7 percent.
More people have come forward to be tested in recent days, and the highest number was 3,317 people, 218 of whom tested positive for the disease.
So far, government officials say the new wave is mild and could result in fewer hospitalizations compared to previous waves. As of June 8, only eight people were hospitalized at various facilities across the country. No patient is currently in the ICU or in the ICU. Around 1,239 patients are in home care.
Experts also attribute this new wave to the change in weather as the country experiences a cold season, as well as subvariant BA.2, which is more contagious than Omicron.
Even as the numbers rise, Kenyans have dropped their vigilance and are not complying with public health measures.
Health Cabinet Minister Mutahi Kagwe lifted the mask-wearing mandate in March, citing low positivity rates that had fallen to 0.1 percent.
But according to the new figures, Secretary of State for Health Susan Mochache and other ministry officials are urging Kenyans to resume wearing masks in enclosed public spaces.
About 30 percent of the adult population is fully vaccinated, which is below the 70 percent target set by the African Union.
The situation is no different in Tanzania, which has seen a 137 percent increase in Covid-19 cases in one month.
Tanzania’s Health Ministry said it recorded 68 cases between April and May, the number rising to 161 new cases from May 5 to June 4, an increase of over 100 percent. However, no deaths have occurred.
The infections have hit Dar es Salaam the hardest with 130 cases, followed by Arusha with 10 cases and Mwanza with five cases.
Spike in Uganda This week, the Ugandan Ministry of Health announced a spike in new infections and urged the public to return to previous measures such as wearing face masks, social distancing, avoiding large gatherings and washing hands.
The country’s health minister, Jane Ruth Aceng, said Uganda had no evidence of travel restrictions or lockdowns but would instead push for mass vaccinations, particularly for vulnerable groups.
Uganda has gone from zero daily new infections to an average of 50, with most of them coming from the populous districts of Kampala and Wakiso in central Uganda.
For example, on Wednesday the country recorded 58 new cases, its highest in recent months. “This increase is similar to the June 2021 increase when the Delta variant was widespread,” said Dr. Aceng.
She noted that the Omicron variant is more common in the country and, while often mild, can cause serious illness and death in people with underlying risks.
During Tuesday’s State of the Union address, President Yoweri Museveni said he was concerned about the new infections and potential transmissions, particularly after Uganda’s recent Martyrs’ Day, which saw more than a million people gather in Namugongo, near Kampala . “People didn’t wear masks in Namugongo. They mistakenly think that going to church doesn’t make you sick. I’m a bit worried about what I saw there,” he said.
The country, which has received over 40 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine so far, is struggling to vaccinate most of its population due to public apathy.
As of Wednesday, 16 million people had received at least a single dose of Covid-19, while 10 million were fully vaccinated, according to official figures. The original goal was to vaccinate at least 22 million of the 42 million Ugandans by now.
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