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OPINION: Coronavirus exposes unbridled carelessness of Kenyan political leaders

Editor’s note: Professor Lukoye Atwoli, a psychiatrist teaching mental health at Moi University School of Medicine, lends a glimpse of the challenge coronavirus poses to mass populations.

Caution to our money-minded political leaders concerning the new coronavirus 2019 epidemic with the epicenter in China.

Once this infection reaches a territory, it spreads very rapidly, just like other respiratory viruses that spread via droplet transmission.

Nobody will be spared, especially in this country with a very fragmented and mostly broken health system.

Once infected, who is at the highest risk of death? That is the question, and research continues in that regard.

What we however know at the moment is that the risk of death increases exponentially after the age of 40, but especially above the age of 50.

Additionally, men are almost twice as likely to die once infected as women (this might be related to the fact that men in the affected areas are more likely than women to be smokers, and smoking significantly elevates your risk of death if you get this infection), and the risk of death is greater among those with other chronic illnesses.

Only about 12% of our population is over the age of 50, believe it or not.

And almost 100% of our senior political leadership is over 50 years of age. And almost all of them are men.

And almost all of them have some chronic condition they are struggling with. This is the one instance where when politicians at the highest level are making decisions in pursuit of personal monetary gain, they at the same time put themselves at considerable risk of death.

Like opening our airport to flights from heavily infected areas and encouraging the arriving passengers to ‘self-quarantine’ (whatever that means).

The risk categories are unlikely to change much in the near term, unless the virus undergoes some dramatic mutations.

Also, you can protect yourself by simple hygienic processes like washing your hands with soap and water, avoiding unnecessary contact with unclean surfaces, avoiding touching your face and eyes, avoiding open sneezing and coughing, and seeking prompt assistance when you get a fever or respiratory symptoms.

Opinions expressed in this article are solely that of the writer and do not necessarily represent the position of We welcome writer to give their views on social and political issues. Send your opinion to

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