Economist and public intellectual, David Ndii, has advised President Uhuru Kenyatta to establish a National COVID-19 Response Task Force to help deal with the current pandemic.
Scientific advisory panel
In an open letter in which he addressed several issues, David Ndii called on President Uhuru to also consider forming an Independent scientific advisory panel. This panel, Ndii said, would advise the President on how he would go about the matter.
“Establish an independent scientific advisory panel, along the lines of the UK’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), to advise you and the National Response Task Force.” Part of Ndii’s letter reads.
David Ndii also called on aggressive testing, especially in areas that would be perfect for cluster infections.
“Task the health authorities to mount an aggressive testing effort of highly exposed people and clusters (airline and international hotel staff, tourism centres e.g., Malindi and Diani, etc.) to establish the extent, if any, of local transmissions.”
The ICU bed-capacity issue
In the letter, Ndii also painted a bleak picture of the country’s ICU bed capacity, stating that the country could not afford 100 infections.
Kenya has a paltry 200 ICU beds nationally. With most of these beds occupied, widespread infection of COVID-19 would then spell doom for those who would need critical care.
“To exhaust our 200 ICU beds at this rate requires only 5000 infections. But many of these beds are already occupied; therefore, the actual capacity that will be available is much less. We cannot afford 1000 infections, let alone 5000.” Ndii says.
Soft loans for affected Kenyans
The renowned economist also proposed for the government to offer soft loans with an extended grace period (6-12 months) to affected Kenyans, who would be worse off in the event of a lockdown.
The amount, according to Ndii, would be a fixed sum per employee and would be disbursed monthly. This payment is to cushion the many Kenyans who will be affected by the impending lockdown.
Kenya has now confirmed 28 COVID-19 cases, an increase of three patients. One has made a recovery.
‘Error in judgment’
Ndii also took issue with the President’s previous national address, where he launched a 4 G internet service. Ndii called it ‘an error in judgment’ and ‘distasteful opportunism’ by Google, the company behind the launch.
With the nation on edge due to the novel coronavirus, that address could not have come at a worse time.
However, the President has announced new measures by the government to combat COVID-19. Among the measures were pay cuts for high-ranking civil servants, including the Presidency, as well as tax relief for Kenyans.
Below is David Ndii’s letter in full.
Here is a letter from David Ndii to the president. pic.twitter.com/8o0WL6LNRR
— John Ngila 🇰🇪 (@JohnNgila) March 25, 2020