By Anthony Mugo
At a recent get together, a psychological counsellor gave the following story.
“That Friday, a few days after restrictions imposed by the Government to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic had been relaxed, 25-year old Shirleen Mbeche, was feeling really bored. Shirleen, a Nairobi-based English/French freelance translator, loves to dance while hanging out with friends, particularly on Fridays.
“So, when her friend, Betty Ochieng, called her that Friday suggesting to Shirleen to join her and her boyfriend Cliff, for drinks, she could hardly say no.
“They met at a popular joint with the CBD for drinks and to catch up. Being mindful of the Covid-19 protocols, they bumped their fists in greeting and all wore masks properly. The seating arrangement at the bar complied with the 1.5 metre social distance requirements.
“As the evening wore on, the trio decided to change location. They moved to a popular joint along Thika Superhighway. They knew the DJ there spun cool beats and he did not disappoint.
“The place was getting packed quickly. Although Shirleen and her friends sat in an open and airy section of the club, the dance floor was tucked in a corner inside. Cliff was not much of a dancer, but the ladies could hardly leave the dance floor. The music got louder, forcing people to shout to be heard above the din.
“Shirleen at some point removed her mask. She wondered why Betty was not doing the same, but Betty told her she felt alright dancing with the mask. Betty also took frequent breaks to join Cliff outside. Cliff also remained masked throughout the evening. By 11.00 pm, only a few packed dancers on the stuffy dance floor wore masks. Covid-19 was all but forgotten.
“Betty and Cliff live near the club. Because of curfew rules, it was too late and risky for them to drop Shirleen home. When they got to Cliff’s house, Shirleen blacked out on the sofa and left for her place in the morning.
“Six days later, Shirleen woke with a painful sore-throat and a throbbing headache and went to see her doctor. She was also running a fever, so a Covid-19 test was ordered, and it turned out positive.
“At that point Shirleen realised that it must be on the dance floor where she contracted the coronavirus. She had removed her mask and ignored the social distancing protocol. After two days of self-isolation, Shirleen started suffering shortness of breath and had to be rushed to hospital, where she remains in the high-dependency unit.”
The above account and the characters are fictional. However, many young people might identify with the events described. The second wave of Covid-19 is underway. Following the recommended protocols on hand hygiene, proper wearing of masks and keeping social distance is the only known way of protecting yourself and your loved ones. The Covid-19 pandemic is not over yet.