COVID-19 Prevention: New Year, Same measures!
The year 2021 is now well underway. During the month of January, several significant developments have been noted in the fight against COVID-19.
These significant developments represent a mixed bag of positive and concerning signals relating to the control of the pandemic.
- School re-opening: The year began with the long-awaited school re-opening for in-person learning. This has come with some challenges but is nevertheless a significant positive step
in the continuity of education and development of leaners in the context of COVID-19.
- Reduced COVID-19 infections: The COVID-19 Pandemic has taken an optimistic trend in Kenya with the Ministry of Health providing daily updates of consistently low (< 5%) COVID-19 positivity rates.
The number of hospitalizations, severe illness and death from COVID-19 has also markedly reduced in the past month compared to the similar parameters in the last quarter of 2020.
- COVID-19 Vaccines: The news of new COVID-19 vaccines derived from successful clinical trials has renewed hope that the COVID-19 pandemic can finally be brought under control.
The positive impact from the COVID-19 vaccines will be realized though ensuring the widest vaccine access together with applying effective roll-out programmes for the vaccines in all countries and regions.
Multiple initiatives and organizations are working to make this a reality including the Global COVAX mechanism and the UNHQ initiative to supplement vaccine access to UN personnel and dependents in the line with the SAGE priority roadmap*
- COVID-19 Variants: During the past two months, we have witnessed a resurgence of COVID-19 infections in certain countries and regions which had earlier managed to bring down the rates of COVID-19 infection.
This has been primarily linked to the emergence and spread of new COVID-19 variants resulting from genetic mutations in the viral structure. There is still a lot to be understood about the emerging variants, but early indications are that some mutations have
led to certain COVID-19 variants being more transmissible in the community.
- Risk of complacency: The COVID-19 spread in many regions has clearly demonstrated a recurrent pattern of surges or waves with intermittent dips in infection rates. Several factors are responsible for this, but one consistent concern has been complacency
in adherence to COVID-19 preventive measures. To bring it closer home, complacency with COVID-19 measures can result in a resurgence of COVID-19 infections with potential negative impacts for re-opened schools, personnel returning to the office (Back to office)
and the community at large.
Importance of Sustained vigilance and Compliance:
- As we all wait for the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccines, we must face the reality that this alone will not be enough in the short term to get the COVID-19 pandemic under control. The staged roll out of the vaccine also means that the most vulnerable will be
prioritized first before the rest of the general population can receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
- In view of above, it is prudent that we continue applying COVID-19 prevention measures consistently in our homes, as we return to the office and in the general community.
The COVID-19 prevention measures are re-stated below:
- Consistent, correct use of Face covering or Face masks: Proper wearing and handling of face coverings helps to limit the spread of COVID-19 infection in the community.
- Consistent practice of Hand hygiene: Frequent hand hygiene with alcohol-based hand rub (minimum 60% alcohol) for at least 20 seconds or washing hands frequently with soap and water for at least 40 seconds. Do not touch your face with unwashed hands.
- Physical distancing: Avoid close physical contact with others, including shaking hands and hugging. Maintain physical distance of at least 1.5m between yourself and others.
- Respiratory hygiene: Cover your nose and mouth with a bent elbow or paper tissue when coughing or sneezing. Dispose of the tissue immediately after use and perform hand hygiene.
- Avoid poorly ventilated or closed spaces: Prolonged exposure to poorly ventilated spaces can increase one’s risk of COVID-19 exposure. Ensure adequate ventilation by utilizing outdoor spaces, keeping windows open and limiting time spent in closed spaces.
As we continue into 2021, JMS wishes you good health and wellbeing as you continue exercising vigilance and compliance with COVID-19 prevention measures.
KEEP HEALTHY & SAFE !
Report COVID-19 Illness via the EarthMed Portal - medical.un.org
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