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Somalis in Nairobi’s Eastleigh at risk as Somali citizen tests positive for COVID-19

Friday April 3, 2020

NAIROBI (HOL)- Ever busy and crowded bustling with business, Nairobi’s Eastleigh is now on the spotlight following the report by Kenyan government Friday that a Somali national has tested positive for the deadly COVID-19 disease.

Eastleigh which hosts one of the busiest markets in East Africa and is home to Somalis, many of them nationals of the neighbouring Somalia has seen quiet nights because of the dusk to dawn curfew imposed by the government. But the during the day, its life as usual as many rush to beat the curfew time.

Social distancing is a tall order not only because of the sea of humanity buying and selling items in malls, small shops and streets but also because of the Somali culture.

Somalis largely live a communal life and the small spaces within Eastleigh make it even more difficult for one to keep a distance from his or her neighbour.

Health Chief Administrative Secretary Dr. Mercy Mwangangi announced Friday that one Somali national was among the 12 people who tested negative for the COVID-19 taking the number of those who have contracted the disease in Kenya to 122.


It was not immediately clear how many contacts the Somali national had before he was put on quarantine but from the trends, people who test positive will have had contact with several people before they are subjected to isolation.

There are therefore chances that the Somali national may have interacted with several fellow Somalis particularly in Eastleigh area where most Somalis either live, do business or spend their times in hotels with friends and relatives.

There is also the risk the infected contacts may travel to the north eastern region of the country and eventually make way to Somalia through the land border.

This will likely confirm fears expressed by Somalia’s Health Minister Dr. Fawziya Abikar last week that the country could still see import of COVID-19 cases through the porous borders.

Dr. Abikar noted that despite the international flights ban, people from other COVID-19 affected countries could still enter the country through the land and sea borders. Somalia borders Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti.

So far there are three cases in Somalia and two in the break-away region of Somaliland.


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