Kenya Reached Its Covid-19 Peak in July, Study Says

Boda boda operators in Malaba. The border town in Busia County has recorded many coronavirus cases in the recent past.
6 September 2020

Latest scientific projections indicate that Kenya already hit its Covid-19 peak, experts have said.

According to a study by the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) and the Ministry of Health, the peak happened before the end of July in what they term as "some major urban counties", with between 34 and 41 per cent of residents being infected.

However, they add that other parts of the country are likely to experience their peak within two to three months.

Despite this increase in infections among residents of Nairobi and Mombasa counties, the researchers noted that reported severe cases and deaths have remained low. As such, their analysis suggests the Covid-19 disease burden in Kenya may be far less than initially feared.

"A similar scenario across sub-Saharan Africa would have implications for balancing the consequences of restrictions with those of Covid-19," wrote the team comprising 24 Kemri research scientists and four officers from the Ministry of Health among them Dr Mercy Mwangangi, Dr Rahid Aman, Dr Patrick Amoth and Dr Kasera Kadondi.

The study was published on Friday in the MedRxiv journal by the team from Kemri-Wellcome Trust and published as a new preprint (not yet peer-reviewed) on the modelling of Covid-19 in Kenya based on serological and PCR-test data.

The latest round of government projections related to the global pandemic include an increasingly common phrase -- reaching the peak.

New cases level off

Infectious disease and statistical modelling specialists say to reach the peak in a pandemic curve means that the number of new cases has begun to level off rather than continuing on a sharp upward trajectory.

Such a scenario is playing out across the continent with data shared by both the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Africa Centres for Disease Control (Africa-CDC) indicating that about 1.3 million cases, 30,200 deaths, and one million recoveries have been recorded since the first case of Covid-19 was reported in Egypt in February.

Kenya's positivity rate, against the samples tested, has been going down with a correspondingly low number of cases.

In the last one week, cases have reduced by an estimated 21 per cent from 52,544 to 41,614 cases. Deaths have also decreased by 13 per cent from 1,562 to 1,363.

Ministry of Health's projection had estimated that the country should currently be at the peak of Covid-19 infections, the numbers have been falling.

Slow down spread

Flattening the curve is a public health strategy to slow down the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The curve being flattened is the epidemic curve, a visual representation of the number of infected people needing health care over time.

A flatter curve shows what happens if the spread of the virus slows down. The same number of people may get sick, but the infections happen over a longer span of time, so hospitals can treat everyone.

In Kenya, the number of daily cases has seen the number average between 150 and 300 confirmed cases.

Saturday, the country recorded 136 cases from 3,707 samples tested during the preceding 24 hours.

Since Covid-19 began to spread rapidly outside China - the initial epicentre - to other parts of the globe, scientists have been using mathematical models to show the trajectory of the disease in different countries, with many owning the slogan "flattening the curve."

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