Crowded slums pose challenge as Kenya braces for coronavirus outbreak

Crowded slums pose challenge as Kenya braces for coronavirus outbreak

The Kenyan Government has said there are no new cases of coronavirus maintaining the initial number of seven patients receiving treatment.

No cases have been reported in Kibera yet but residents are concerned as the crowded living quarters would make it difficult to fight the deadly virus if it begins to spread there.

Hezbon Kodek, who lives alone in a single room in Kibera, says poor hygiene compounds the problem.

“We have a pit latrine, but the neighbors — we are more than 100 rooms sharing one toilet,” he said.

“It’s a bit complex. And more so you find that the water, there is a problem with water. Sometimes on Fridays there is no water. It’s a bit complex.”

Sylvester Okoth, a 33-year-old father of two, lives in a single room with his family. He says they are trying to do everything possible to be safe from the novel coronavirus.

“I have left to God, but on the cleanliness part, we are trying to wash our hands and the place we sleep,” he said.

“We keep it clean. On the shared bathroom and toilet as people who share, we decided to make sure all of us take the initiative to keep them clean and keep the environment clean.”

Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe says they are taking measures to prevent the outbreak of the disease in crowded areas like Kibera.

“We have got a team in the Ministry of Health that is going to start going ’round within those slum areas so that they can be able to talk to them and tell them what to do and tell them how to behave,” Kagwe said.

“These are the areas we are saying that we are asking the county government to take serious measure as far as cleanliness is concerned. We are also asking the ministry of water, and they are assisting us to do so to ensure that these areas have water.”

Some residents in Kibera say they have received leaflets educating them on the coronavirus but Kodek says he took issue with one particular recommendation.

“Stay home as much as possible. But how can we stay at home when you need food to put in your mouth?” he said.

“That’s the question we ask ourselves. How can you stay? So this thing is pandemic, and it’s going to kill all of us. How can you stay at home when there is no food?”


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