How to soften the corona hit, seven steps to ease coronavirus’s social, economic damage

A jua Kali artisan in Embakasi Our beloved country is in the grip of multiple socioeconomic crises of unprecedented proportions. Never since Independence have we had to juggle such concurrent critical threats to our national well-being, all converging amidst extremely challenging economic times. Currently, our health, wealth and well-being as a nation are yet to successfully tackle another significant threat to our food security, the locust invasion.

The government should be praised its efforts thus far in responding to the coronavirus. Commendable measures initiated so far include: restricting entry into the country to Kenyan citizens and residents only and requiring entrants to self-quarantine; advising on health and hygiene measures, including hand-washing, social-distancing and usage of masks;

And enhanced testing internally and at various points of entry into the country; 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 in various counties to avoid unnecessary and lengthy congregations; recommending both public and private sector allow employees to work from home; and restricting non-essential travel both 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 government interventions have to be carefully managed lest we cure one disease, Covid-19, 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 dangerous than the disease itself.

For example, whereas the government has put in place emergency measures to reign in the coronavirus, these measures potentially could cause 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 economic and social effects of containment of the virus.

With the projected rise in infections in Kenya and worldwide, we anticipate the Kenyan government and others globally will take even more stringent measures to protect their citizens. 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 pandemic and measures against it are causing debilitating effects on the economy.

Cases in point include the following: The Nairobi Securities Exchange was hit as soon as the first case of coronavirus […]

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