Did Kenyans Contract, Recover from Covid-19 Without Knowing?

Dr Stella Bosire.
  • Several Kenyans who experienced symptoms of a flu between January and March this year suspected that they might have contracted Covid-19 and recovered without diagnosis or treatment.

    This is after a theory widely circulated on platforms including WhatsApp and Twitter claimed that the alleged fevers explained the high number of asymptomatic Covid-19 cases.

    During the online ‘Ask the DG’ session on Wednesday, July 29, one Kenyan questioned Health Director-General Patrick Amoth over the matter, asking if the claim was true or not while also wanting to know about potential re-infections. Without directly addressing the claim, Amoth responded with the observation that 92% of Covid-19 cases recorded in Kenya, so far, were asymptomatic, with not a single re-infection confirmed.

    He further advised patients who had recovered from the virus to adhere strictly to protocols recommended by the Ministry of Health. Speaking to kenyagist.com on Wednesday, July 29, Kenya Medical Association (KMA) Executive Director Dr Stella Bosire explained why the theory would likely remain an urban myth.

    Dr Stella Bosire.

    “From a scientific perspective, in this case, we lack the metrics to be able to prove or disprove the theory in the first place. When it comes to Covid-19 the metrics we work with is the testing figures.

    “No tests were being carried out in the country before the first case was confirmed. So even if it was Covid, we can’t really say for sure,” she explained.

    Bosire noted that the symptoms of Covid-19 were similar to those exhibited in other upper respiratory infections such as SARS and the flu. One difference, she disclosed, was in the life cycle of the infections.

    “You will find that with these other respiratory infections, like what we call homa (flu), the symptoms last for about three to five days and then they go away by themselves. But in this case it’s different and some experience severe symptoms,” she stated.

    Breaking down Covid-19 symptoms, Bosire noted that they included dry cough, sore throat, fever, tiredness and nasal congestion.

    “People have to realise that these other influenzas haven’t taken a break. Right now, you’ll find someone with a flu but they’re worried it’s Covid-19, or someone may assume they have symptoms of a flu when it’s Covid-19,” she stated, asserting the importance of visiting the nearest health facility for testing if one exhibited symptoms.

    After the theory went viral on Friday, July 24, several Kenyans had worriedly revealed how they experienced serious flu symptoms in the months preceding confirmation of the first case in Kenya.

    “In February I had a flu from hell. Fever, joint pains, crazy bad cough and constant headache. I took Good Morning syrup for days and drank hot toddies, Mara Moja tablets and kept warm. The flu lasted 10 or so days. It was madness,” recounted Jackie Arkle.

    “I was sick and I had all these symptoms including shortness of breath,  around March. I even went to the hospital and was told that I am stressed,” stated one Elwak.

    “Began around November. Lasted between 12 – 15 days. Severe cough, sweating, high temperature, no appetite dizziness and disorientation. Then it went away with no medication,” wrote Nteere Kinyua.

    A medical practitioner dressed in protective gear at Coronavirus isolation and treatment facility in Mbagathi District Hospital on Friday, March 6, 2020
    A medical practitioner dressed in protective gear at Coronavirus isolation and treatment facility in Mbagathi District Hospital on Friday, March 6, 2020
    Simon Kiragu

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