By HENRY OWINO
All over the world, people are on the celebrations mood, others on Christmas, New Year while a few are joining family to mark various anniversaries or just enjoy holiday season. Theses are traditional ways of crowning the entire year and ushering in a new one globally.
These festivities are normally pampered with extreme or excessive indulgence of parties typically involving eating, drinking, entertainments, religious gatherings, travelling, visiting among all sorts of picnics as Christians mark the most important day in their calendar.
All these celebrations culminate to the first week of January upon marking the start of the New Year. This year, such activities are going to be minimal compared to the previous years owing to the dreaded Coronavirus pandemic. The virus has loomed large over all facets of human race and Christmas and New Year are no exception.
Covid-19 has changed these special traditional festivities with new normal demanding very cautious observations while gathering, interacting and making any movements. The new normal requires some sort of self-discipline in terms of personal hygiene, physical space and doing anything possible to minimize infection rates.
According to Dr Mercy Mwangangi Cabinet Administrative Secretary for Health in Kenya, World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines on Covid-19 are not punishment. So, if people are not going to adhere to guidelines then post festivities period there is likely to be very high rates of infections.
“All governments and heads of States globally have played their roles to help tame the spread of Covid-19 to its citizens. Many countries did achieve much and to date are gradually easing up the lockdowns and curfews for economy to grow,” Dr Mwangangi said.
“However, this does not mean that Covid-19 is no longer with us. The disease is still here and most countries are struggling with the second wave of the virus. So, this is not the right time to meet, mingle and interact with strangers unconcernedly,” she cautioned.
Dr Mwangangi reminded Kenyans that Covid-19 is here not taking a break but waiting unsparingly. She anticipated the peak of the Coronavirus really depends on how people behave during the festive seasons.
“This is the time people need to wear face mask, use hand sanitizers frequently, thermal guns to test body temperatures and social distancing than ever before,” These should not be any barrier to intimate celebrations but health conditions requirements to save lives, ”Dr Mwangangi advised.
The health CAS cautioned Kenyans not to be carried away by festivities and forget to adhere to health guidelines and government regulations. She emphasized carelessness could lead to the increase of the infections among Kenyans yet public health facilities are already overwhelmed.
Mr Otula Owuor, Founding and Managing Editor of Science Africa said Coronavirus is real and still here with us. He appealed to Kenyans to wear face mask properly and sanitize or use running water to wash hands and ensure social distancing at all time.
Mr Owuor stated Coronavirus is not just aerosol but airborne because its droplets could hang on air for a few minutes before dropping on ground. He cautioned without proper wearing mask, one can easily get infected while crossing the path where droplets hang.
“Young people are getting infected but due to their age, they are able to cope up. The elderly are vulnerable due to underlying health conditions hence when infected they easily to succumb,” Mr Owuor explained.
“Kenyans especially the elderly must now stop frequent attending to gathering places like funerals, weddings, celebrations if possible. These are the breeding environment where one can easily get infected because of big crowding.” Mr Owuor urged.
Mr Owuor regrets that Kenyan politicians and other significant leaders are setting bad precedent by appearing in public rallies or gatherings either wearing masks on their chins or without masks. He complained the habit encourages common-man and the rest of Kenyans to emulate the bad practice.
Many Kenyans, who spoke to Science Africa Senior Correspondent, said these festivities could be a test to most people’s patience and endurance in terms of traditional end and New Year celebrations. It is about life and death thus Covid-19 infections and avoiding it.
For some people, the Coronavirus pandemic has put a damper on Christmas at the place where it is said to belong. However, Kenyans living in urban areas devoted to travelling upcountry despite challenges which include transport chaos, financial crunch and lurking Covid-19 dangers.
The defiance of Covid-19 guidelines, economic hardship but to make merry might cost many Kenyans. By mid-January 2021, Covid-19 could double peak especially in the upcountry following crowds seen in country bus stations and in market centres.
So, post-Christmas festivities, the Covid-19 cases are likely to double peak in areas it was fairly low. This could be attributed to ignorance or ignorant of Kenyans during the festivities.