Kenya: COVID-19 - PSVs Risk Becoming Super Spreaders

Public transport operators could become Covid-19 super spreaders if industry stakeholders continue ignoring Health ministry guidelines.

The ministry has warned that matatus and digital taxis, including Uber and Little drivers, could easily spread the virus to hundreds of people if the measures are not followed

Dr Francis Kuria, in charge of contact tracing at the ministry, said that identifying people who have been in contact with the drivers has proved difficult.

The official gave an example of a driver who tested positive at Mbagathi Hospital and because he had no symptoms, he was discharged before the incubation period of 14 days elapsed, and was on the road driving people to Naivasha.

When the driver noticed that he was being traced, he switched off his phone for two days only to be picked a week later in Kibera driving people around.

"This kind of driver moving people from Nairobi to Naivasha is very dangerous because one is unable to trace everyone he got in contact with. This is an irresponsible driver since we cannot trace everyone who got into contact with him," he said

Dr Kuria painted the unfortunate scenario where the people who were in contact with the driver are roaming in the community and could be infecting others.

"Today, if you use a matatu, and the driver happens to be positive, it is very difficult to get to know everyone who was in that vehicle because no one takes the contacts of the passengers. This is why it's very necessary to put on your mask all the time when using public transport," he said.

Dr Kuria urged Kenyans to ensure that they have their masks on and sanitise all the times when using public service vehicles.

Though he did not indicate how many drivers have been affected since the virus was reported in the country on March 13, he said the trade has the highest rate of infection.

Health CAS Rashid Aman said matatus are breaking the law, hence the need to put more stringent measures.

"I had a visitor in my office -- a resident of Lavington -- who came to complain of how matatus were carrying beyond capacity. We're not yet off the hook and the earlier we realise this, the better," he warned.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization and Uber have compiled safety tips and recommendations specifically geared towards ride sharing and food delivery.

Uber has begun sharing this information with users globally and has stated it will now leverage the tips to educate riders, drivers, delivery people and restaurants when it learns of unsafe behaviour.

We have been providing masks and launched our Covid-19 resources hub to help drivers and delivery people do their work safely.

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