COVID-19: Financial hardships overtake health as top concern among Kenyans

Financial constrains arising from the COVID-19 pandemic have now overtaken health as the greatest concern among Kenyans, a new survey shows. According to the latest wave of findings from Infotrak, COVID-19 is currently seen first as a financial issue at 41 percent from 28 percent in April. COVID-19 as both a personal health and finance issue has meanwhile fallen to 35 percent from 63 percent with the pandemic as a health concern among Kenyans standing at 16 percent. The new findings indicate the Covid-19 pandemic now manifesting itself more as an economic issue in now over three months since the reporting of the first positive case in the country. 87 percent of surveyed Kenyans indicate the cost of food has gone up, 79 percent can no longer remit money to dependents back home while 75 percent can’t pay back loans. Further, 68 percent of Kenyans report inabilities to adequately source energy including gas kerosene and charcoal, 67 percent can’t pay for utilities such as water and electricity while 67 percent are unable to buy medicine. Moreover, the survey finds 63 percent of Kenyans are unable to pay rent on time with 60 percent failing to meet their rent arrears in full. The inability to meet the monthly charge is highly manifested in urban areas at 74 percent. 54 percent of the employed have meanwhile reported salary cuts while 47 percent of all Kenyans now say they are depended on some sort of aid including food donations from well-wishers. No relief The observed financial hardships are despite recent interventions by government to put in place a soft landing to Kenyans. In April for instance, the government passed cushioning to Kenyans through the Tax Laws (Ammendment) Act which lowered rates on taxable incomes including Pay as You Earn (PAYE), residential, corporate tax and turnover tax to small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Further relief saw the lowering of value added tax (VAT) for the supply of goods and services. Even so, a majority 72 percent of Kenyans feel the impact of the VAT reduction to the average Kenyan has not tickled down as the cost of goods and services remain unchanged for the better. Anxiety Hardships brought forth by the pandemic have continued to ponder the mental wellness of Kenyans as a majority 81 percent of respondents report feelings of anxiousness and stress. A further 68 percent of Kenyans feel confused, 63 percent feel trapped while another 61 percent of respondents have reported loneliness. 52 percent of Kenyans feel helpless, 33 percent of Kenyans are angry while 36 percent feel mistreated and have a hard time sleeping. The rising mental health concerns emerge as the Ministry of Health warns of apathy to the pandemic as Kenya continues to register a steady rise in the number of positive cases. The concerns comes as Kenyans consumption of COVID-19 related news dips to with 78 percent of Kenyans finding news on the pandemic stressful.

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