Remembering the start of COVID19 in Nairobi
Today marks a year since the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in Kenya. At the onset of the pandemic, ThisNairobi was able to spend time photographing different communities around the city as they mobilized resources in preparation for COVID-19’s arrival.
Though COVID-19 did hit Kenya, deaths, and infections were far lower than in other parts of the world. The city slowed, but never stopped and people found new ways to exist under unusual conditions. Through the “Notes From a Pandemic” photo-series, we hope that the world sees that the city’s ability to deal with COVID-19 was no accident. Rather it was a battle fought through hard work, dedication and mutual support.
*all photographs were taken with permission from those photographed. All are over 18 years of age
A televised press briefing plays on a television at a health center in Kwangware’s Kabiro ward. Following the arrival of the first COVID-19 case in Nairobi what was once considered a far away disease became a topic of discussion countrywide. News broadcasts played back-to-back and few places remained untouched. Registered nurse, Bruce M., with a handmade mask at Kabiro Ward health center. At the onset of the pandemic, the health center had to divert resources from services like sex education to COVID-19 preparedness. Hospital staff at Kabiro Ward Health Center filling out paperwork. In the weeks that followed this photo, the neighborhood was declared a COVID-19 hot spot in Nairobi and targeted for fumigation by authorities. Health CS Mutahi Kagwe speaks at the unveiling of the first COVID-19 isolation ward at Mbagathi hospital in Nairobi. Members of the local and international press gathered in the sun in eager anticipation of the news to come. In the weeks that followed the first case of COVID19 arrived in Kenya and #KomeshaCorona became a nationwide rallying cry. Two nurses at Mbagathi Hospital in Nairobi demonstrate COVID19 preparedness measures at the unveiling of Kenya’s first isolation ward for patients with COVID19. Jane N, known affectionately by her neighbors as “Mama Sanitiser”. At the outset of the pandemic, Jane took it upon herself to distribute sanitizer to residents. A Kibera resident demonstrates proper handwashing protocol at a community-run seminar. Hand washing stations like this one sprung up almost overnight and could be seen nearly every meter throughout the neighborhood. Seamstress, Irene K. wearing her own handmade mask. Well before the arrival of COVID-19 in Kenya, price gouging made the cost of disposable masks too expensive for most. Seamstresses like Irene shifted their business models and began making affordable, reusable, CDC-compliant face masks sold at a fraction of the price. Her women-owned cooperative provided income for women at a time when unemployment and economic marginalization were more dire than ever. A volunteer hands out sanitizer while holding a rosary at a community-run COVID19 relief donation drive in Kwangware. Science and faith go hand in hand as citizens continue to battle the virus and increased economic pressures that come with it. From the mouths of babes. Even children pitched in to alert their elders about the dangers that the virus posed. Here on a mabati door panel in Kibera hand-drawn warnings from local youngsters remind residents that COVID-19 is real.