Mombasa residents bundled up amid the curfew coming into effect on Friday, March 27, 2020.
Mombasa residents bundled up amid the curfew coming into effect on Friday, March 27, 2020.

By Reporter

The majority of Kenyans want President Uhuru Kenyatta to lock down the country for 14 days to contain the spread of the coronavirus in the country, a new study shows.

The research whose findings were released on Sunday showed that 68 per cent of Kenyans want President Kenyatta to enforce total shutdown as a measure to avert further spread of the virus, which has so far infected 142 people and claimed four lives in the country.

Another four people have recovered from the virus, which has been declared as a global health pandemic by the World Health Organization.

From the sample, only 35 per cent said they are unprepared for a shutdown.

A lockdown is among measures the government has been considering since it emerged that most confirmed cases are due to community transmissions.

The findings by Infotrak indicate 75 per cent of Kenyans across the eight former provinces are worried about the virus and only 14 per cent of respondents said they are not worried.

The lockdown had more support in Eastern (77 per cent), Nairobi (73 per cent), Nyanza (70 per cent), Central (68 per cent), Rift Valley (68 per cent), Western (66 per cent) and Northeastern (65 per cent).

It, however, had the least support from the Coast region with only 54 per cent expressing support.

More people in rural areas (70 per cent) are in support of lockdown compared with urban areas (65 per cent).

The lockdown had more support from the retired people (80 per cent) followed by those who are self-employed in the formal sector (70 per cent) and least support from those in the informal sector (64 per cent).

From the findings, the majority of Kenyans also want the government to focus on coronavirus and food security, even as most still believe the threat of the virus is exaggerated.

It also exposes serious knowledge gaps amongst Kenyans.

The study conducted between March 30 and April 2 shows Kenyans want coronavirus and the food situation to be the top priorities for the government.

Of the 831 respondents interviewed from 24 out of the 47 counties, 55 per cent want the government to focus on Covid-19, while 47 per cent want food security prioritised during the pandemic period.

Kenyans also expect the government to concentrate its focus on access to healthcare (27 per cent), unemployment (25 per cent), high cost of living (21 per cent) and access to clean water (19 per cent).

“Other key issues that concern Kenyans include insecurity, poor infrastructure, access to transport, corruption, cost of doing business, quality education and disaster management,” the report said.

The study was conducted through computer-assisted telephone interviews and had a +/-3.465 margin of error, with a 95 per cent confidence level.

The findings also indicate the existence of serious knowledge gaps despite heightened sensitisation by the government in mainstream and social media platforms.

For instance, a record 52 per cent of those interviewed strongly believe that threat of coronavirus is exaggerated while 48 per cent don’t think drinking water frequently can help prevent Covid-19.

A further 48 per cent of Kenyans think the virus is just like a common cold, while 35 per cent believe it is better to take the family upcountry to prevent them from infections.

Interestingly, 20 per cent of the 831 respondents believe Africans cannot contract the coronavirus, while 30 per cent are of the opinion that the virus is a direct death sentence.

Another 26 per cent said young people and children can’t get infected, while 25 per cent believe the disease is treatable.