Matatu, tuktuk users ordered to wear face masks


Matatu Owners Association oppose phase out of 14 seaters PHOTO/COURTESY
Matatu Owners Association oppose phase out of 14 seaters PHOTO/COURTESY

In Summary

  • Kenya currently has a total of 110 cases all from a cluster of 2050 people who are currently in mandatory quarantine in facilities across the country.
  • As others have noted, instructing only the sick to wear masks is essentially asking people to put a sign on themselves inviting fear and hostility, whereas if everyone wears a mask when outside, the sick are more likely to do so, thus protecting people around them.

The Ministry of Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe has ordered Matatu users to use face masks to prevent infections while on transit.

The same order has been extended to Tuktuk users, with the Ministry of Health saying it will begin distributing the masks soon.

Speaking on Thursday, CS Kagwe confirmed an additional 29 cases of the new coronavirus, saying the numbers will rise exponentially in the coming days.

“This number I must say is going to rise and rise exponentially. It is important to note that the virus does not move by itself..we must change our behaviours and attitude..,” he said.

Kenya currently has a total of 110 cases all from a cluster of 2050 people who are currently in mandatory quarantine in facilities across the country.

There is concern that the people in quarantine may have infected others who may not be accounted for in the current tally.

That the virus is spread before people feel sick is not news, hence the need for everyone to use a mask while in public.

And even if there was no asymptomatic transmission, universal or near universal mask wearing has its uses.

As others have noted, instructing only the sick to wear masks is essentially asking people to put a sign on themselves inviting fear and hostility, whereas if everyone wears a mask when outside, the sick are more likely to do so, thus protecting people around them.

The masks, have according to research carried out across Asia, been handy in slowing down respiratory infections considerably.

Writing last March, Adrien Burch, an expert in microbiology at the University of California, Berkeley, noted that “despite hearing that face masks ‘don’t work,’ you probably haven’t seen any strong evidence to support that claim. That’s because it doesn’t exist.”

In fact, there is evidence of the exact opposite: that masks help prevent viral infections like the current pandemic.

Burch pointed to a Cochrane Review — a systemic analysis of published studies on a given topic — which found strong evidence during the 2003 SARS epidemic in support of wearing masks.

One study of community transmission in Beijing found that “consistently wearing a mask in public was associated with a 70% reduction in the risk of catching SARS.”

SARS, like Covid-19, is a respiratory illnesses caused by the same family of viruses called coronavirus.

While SARS spread around the world, the worst of the epidemic was focused in Asia, particularly mainland China and Hong Kong

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Story By Tonny Ndungu
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