- Because COVID-19 returns in waves, the psychological impacts of physical distancing will persist over time and may indeed become accentuated with repeated iterations of physical distancing.
- Increasing handwashing, minimizing face touching, wearing masks in public, and physical distancing are the measures that have been adopted globally.
- Similarly, as aerosols are known to be the primary method of spreading the virus, people will avoid hugging others.
When the Covid-19 pandemic first hit Kenya in March 2020, the President Uhuru Kenyatta-led government implemented its so-called ‘partial lockdown’ in which people were urged to leave their homes as little as possible and work from home.
A phased lockdown was also implemented in the country, affecting several towns and major cities.
In fact, the whole of Western Kenya Counties were in 2021 put under lockdown after Covid-19 cases in the area surged.
This life changing event may have caused changes in lifestyle behaviour, an important factor in the onset and course of diseases.
Well, Covid-19 belongs to the same family of viruses (coronaviruses) as the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV).
Many respiratory viruses are believed to transmit over multiple routes, including droplets, aerosols, and fomites.
Respiratory droplets moving from one person to another and contact with contaminated surfaces and objects are the primary sources of transmission.
Presymptomatic transmission is the second type of transmission, in which the virus is transmitted from an infected person who has yet to develop symptoms to another person.
Covid-19 preventive measures
To curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, the government through the ministry of health introduced some measures , among them physical distancing, stay at home orders and the dusk to dawn curfew.
However, the effectiveness of physical distancing is determined by individual behavior.
Change of behaviors
The interventions most essential for control of pandemics necessarily disrupt social processes. Public measures were implemented in response to COVID-19; people were encouraged by authorities, media, and peers to voluntarily adopt “personal distancing” behaviors to reduce virus transmission (e.g., avoiding physical contact or close proximity with non-household members and reducing use of shared public spaces).
Various guidelines have been issued to reduce the spread of the pandemic, including avoiding handshaking or any type of physical contact, avoiding social gatherings or visiting family or friends, wearing masks and gloves, closure of public venues, and tourism and travel restrictions.
Increasing handwashing, minimizing face touching, wearing masks in public, and physical distancing are the measures that have been adopted globally.
Because COVID-19 returns in waves, the psychological impacts of physical distancing will persist over time and may indeed become accentuated with repeated iterations of physical distancing.
Given that physical distancing affects the types of activities in which one can engage and impacts how activities are carried out, it is likely that this accounts for some of the psychological impact.
Studies evaluating the changes in lifestyle due to restrictions imposed as precautionary measures have been conducted across the globe.
In Kenya, public transport was affected, with Public Service Vehicles only allowed to carry half the capacity. Although the public transport has now gone back to normal, the industry must develop strategies to reduce this impact and plan well for the post-pandemic era.
Attending gatherings of family and friends or hugging them, religious gatherings and political gatherings were all restricted, and Kenyans had to learn how to live with this reality.
The dusk to dawn curfew which was also implemented forced Kenyans to also adjust their time schedules, from working till late in the night, to being in their houses by as early as 6pm.
Although the curfew has hence been lifted, a section of Kenyans are still getting into their houses by 10pm.
Well, will lifestyle changes brought about by this measures affect Kenyans in the post-pandemic era? Well, although little studies have been done on these, there are probabilities that many Kenyans will not go back to normal.
With new waves of Covid-19 continuing to emerge, Kenyans are likely to continue exercising caution as far as the pandemic is concerned.
In contrast, the minimum distances that have been maintained between an infected person and a potential host are disputable and are far from being established based on scientific evidence.