Kenya: Why Kenyans Are So Afraid of Going for Free COVID-19 Testing

Dr Loice Achieng Ombajo at the Kenyatta National Hospital Infectious Disease Unit. She is the principal investigator in the study.

Majority of Kenyans are shunning the free government Covid-19 testing that was rolled out on Friday in major hot spots in the country.

The low turnout has forced the government to appeal to its citizens to willingly come forward to be tested to help flatten infections and minimize the risk of transmission.

Rashid Aman, Chief Administrative Secretary in the Ministry of Health said that in spite of acquiring testing capacity to undertake mass testing, there is low turnout at testing centers.

"The outcome of the targeted testing exercise has shown a very low turnout. In the last two days, we have tested 803 against a target of 2000 in Kawangware and 494 in Eastleigh against a target of 3000. We are appealing to Kenyans to willingly come forward to be tested," said Aman.


After the governments appeal, some members of the public have revealed why they fear going for the free testing.

Their main worry is being quarantined at their own cost. And being put on quarantine is a luxury few of them can afford.

The government has since the first case was reported in March insisted that anyone who tests positive of Covid-19 will be quarantined at their own cost.

Here are some views by Kenyans on why they are not ready to volunteer to be tested.

How will one volunteer to be tested then be quarantined and treated at their own cost? Hii ni kama kujisulubisha. Think

-- Douglaskafuna (@Douglaskafuna2) May 3, 2020

"If you test positive not only will we charge you for the test, but we will also charge you for 2 weeks quarantine at a couple thousand times your daily wage and we may put your family in quarantine too but please, please do come and get tested voluntarily".

-- Oya Oya (@A2Jey) May 3, 2020

You made testing look like PUNISHMENT and let the police treat quarantine as PRISONS. Go drink the 4M tea please! Nkt!

-- muhande muruli (@MuhandeMuruliF) May 3, 2020

No, people don't want to be "jailed" for being sick. Ensure people are treated humanely, they are sick not criminals.

-- pkahugi (@mulimaaa) May 3, 2020

The reason for low turnout is a function of fear of being forcefully quarantined at own cost. A majority of people in these areas subsist on daily wages. Most work places are closed. There is no income to pay quarantine costs. Same goes for other normal health services

-- Onyi Papa (@paddyonyango) May 3, 2020

There is something you guys need to understand. Kenyans are wiling to be tested but what they fear is what next after testing+ve. People have no money now but you would want them to pay hospital fee. Watatoa wapi pesa? Until you make everything free, expect that @SolomonKarori2

-- #SwitchOffKPLC (@Nashpae) May 4, 2020

I wonder who advises you. After testing positive you bankrupt an already struggling citizen ndio mkunywe chai ya 4M. Useless strategy to steal

-- DELLAT (@daglaxx) May 3, 2020

Willing come forward to be tested and then unwillingly asked to pay KES 2K-10K for pathetic and substandard staycation which serves no purpose in Covid-19 deterrent and worse than our current slum dwellings? No thank you... first give us guarantees quarantine is free of charge!

-- FatMatKingCat (@FatMatKingCat) May 4, 2020

AllAfrica publishes around 700 reports a day from more than 100 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.