What Another Global Lockdown Would Mean For Kenya

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More Kenyans would lose their jobs if a second wave of Covid-19 hits other countries leading to new lockdowns there, experts have warned.

A study by a local think-tank and the European Union Commission shows a second lockdown around the world would lead to worse job losses in Kenya compared to the first lockdown.

The World Health Organization says a second wave of Covid-19 is inevitable but has advised against widespread restriction of movement to safeguard economies.

Kenya has not yet suppressed its first peak, but there is a worrying uptick of cases in Asia and Europe where the disease was under control.

"Other countries which have already passed through their first peak, many of them are keeping transmission low. [However] in some of those countries they’re starting to see a resurgence, clusters of cases and outbreaks in certain geographic areas or areas associated with certain types of industries such as nightclubs,” WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove said at the weekly online press conference on Monday.

Some of these countries are now locking down targeted areas.

The Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (Kippra) and the EU Commission's Joint Research Centre on Monday published a modelling study showing what this means for Kenya.

The researchers estimated that the April-June lockdown in Kenya led to a 5.6 per cent negative GDP impact and an 11.8 per cent decrease in employment relative to projected pre-Covid values.

The study, Covid-19 impacts and short-term economic recovery in Kenya, shows a second wave of Covid-19 outside Kenya would also ravage the country's economy if it is accompanied by lockdowns.

"The GDP would see a contraction of approximately 0.8 per cent relative to 2019 in case this hypothetical wave would only occur outside Kenya, and a GDP contraction of 3.8 per cent in case a new set of lockdown measures would need to be imposed in Kenya as well," the study says.

"Employment levels would see a significant reduction of 19.1 per cent while the government deficit would further expand."

The study recommends countries to focus on economic recovery as well as public health.

WHO said worldwide, there have been more than 16 million cases and nearly 650,000 deaths. The US is approaching the milestone of 150,000 deaths.

Global public health specialist Dr Bernard Muia said the solution lies in people following public health guidelines.

He warned that each time suppression measures like lockdowns are relaxed, transmission rises.

"If we don't restrict movement, the disease will keep on spreading. We have no vaccine and no treatment, so in principle the solution is stopping transmission," he told the Star.
"It is very simple, not rocket science. If people keep on travelling to areas with low transmission, the disease will keep on spreading."

Former ambassador Dr John Kakonge says lockdowns have been extremely effective in controlling infections.

"National lockdowns or selective targeted lockdowns are necessary but they must be well planned and implemented in a humane way taking into account the socio-economic disparities within each country," he says in a research paper published recently in the Scholink journal. 

Kakonge heads the Association of Former International Civil Servants in Kenya.

In his address on Monday, President Uhuru Kenyatta said he would not lock down some counties but urged Kenyans to take responsibility.

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