More than 121,564 people have been infected with coronavirus(Covid-19), with significant outbreaks in Italy, Iran and South Korea and the UK. On December 31, 2019, the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) China office heard The first case was reported by the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) on the 31st of December 31 2019.
Since then, the outbreak is now gaining pace around the world. While Kenya has not recorded any case of the virus, WHO classifies Kenya as the sixth high-risk nation in Africa. The East African country in the past weeks has tested 23 suspected cases of the virus, but all of them have turned out negative but the government is not taking chances as several African countries record Covid-19 cases.
Kenya’s Health Minister, Mutahi Kagwe announced the measures that were being taken to keep the virus away from entering the boarders. They included the screening of passengers at all entry points, cancellation of all international conferences, setting up special units to deal with suspected cases and spread of awareness. “We have launched a free SMS service to send information for free to mobile phones. Every Kenyan will be getting information about the disease, and what to do to avoid infections,”Kagwe said.
They used mobile phone subscription bases to reach millions of citizens. According to the Communication Authority, “Kenya has over 53 million mobile phone subscribers”.Citizens have started to receive tailored messages on coronavirus from the government to boost awareness. “Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a respiratory disease affecting the world. There are no cases in Kenya. It spreads via a cough or sneeze,” said one of the messages from the Ministry of Health. Another message asks citizens, who are travelling outside the country, to dial a specific code to get the updates.
Kenyans have lauded the messages, congratulating the government for taking great steps to keep the virus at bay.
“This is really good. It shows the government is keen on ensuring Kenya free of the virus,” said a university student Sharon Akoth. The government is also disseminating similar messages on its social media platforms, to reach the young people who use the apps.
Bernard Mwaso from Edell IT Solution, a Nairobi-based software development start-up, said “In times of crisis, digital messaging is the easiest way to reach the mass. Mobile phone messages work best because they target individuals, not groups. People are therefore able to give such messages attention and can read them over and over again in their private spaces whether they have internet or not,” he said.