Cushion economy, public from critical impact of coronavirus

Kenya is in the grip of multiple socio-economic crises. Never since Independence have we had to juggle between such concurrent and parallel critical threats to our well-being as a nation. Our health, wealth and well-being as a nation are under critical threat by the coronavirus pandemic. This comes at a time when we are yet to resolve yet another significant threat to our food security, the desert locust invasion. The government should be lauded for the efforts it has made thus far in responding to coronavirus. Commendable mitigation measures initiated so far include: restricting entry into the country to Kenyans and residents only and requiring entrants to self-quarantine; advising on health and hygiene measures including hand-washing, social-distancing and usage of masks; enhanced testing internally and at various points of entry; suspension of learning in all educational institutions; advising Kenyans to use cashless transactions; restricting unnecessary public congregations; closing open-air markets in various counties; closure of morgues and requiring burial within 24 hours of the bodies in various counties to avoid unnecessary and lengthy congregation; recommendation that both public and private sector entities allow their employees to work from home; and restricting non-essential travel locally and internationally. However, more can be done through a collective and unified national effort with a 360-degree view of the problem. As with every prescription; the side effects of the interventions by the Government have to be carefully managed lest we cure one disease, the coronavirus, but create yet another more deadly disease to replace it in the form of an economic meltdown. This would become a case of the medication becoming more adverse than the disease itself. For example, whereas the Government has put in place requisite emergency measures to reign in Covid-19, the measures have the potential to occasion an economic downturn of disastrous proportions unless parallel and concurrent measures are put in place to stabilise the economy, cushion ordinary Kenyans and minimise the effects of containment of the virus on the economy. With the projected rise in infections in Kenya and worldwide we anticipate that Kenya and other countries will take even more stringent measures to protect their citizens and stem the spread of the virus. These measures will potentially lead to partial and in extreme cases total lockdown in various countries and Kenya may not be an exception. Already, the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and the resultant measures against it […]

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