Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho has opened up about his battle with the novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
In a recent interview with Nation, the PS, who is regarded as one of the powerful men in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government revealed that he was one of the Kenyans who had to battle with the invisible enemy for 15 days before he was allowed to leave hospital.
“I have all the equipment of war — guns and everything plus control of all the police officers — but Covid-19 still hit me,” the PS said.
In a country where leaders seldom put matters touching on their health in public, the PS said the experience with Covid-19 was humbling.
“If it gets the PS Interior, who can it not get?” he posed.
“The truth is we are all human beings. We should not behave as if diseases are for Wanjiku. We are in a situation where a lot of people are in denial of the existence of the coronavirus and this is what is fuelling the spread.”
The PS said he couldn’t figure where he got the virus but being a busy man he could have gotten it anywhere.
“This is an airborne disease. The worst that can happen is trying to know where you got it from and apportion blame,” he says.
He is a member of the National Emergency Response Committee on the Coronavirus which meets every Monday. His job also requires him to travel a lot across the country where he meets various people.
Before he tested positive for the virus, he had made tours to a number of parts of the country in the month of October including Kisii, Tharaka Nithi, Lamu and Kiambu.
During all his tours, the engineer says, he strictly followed the Ministry of Health guidelines.
“I am one of those people who is always wearing a mask,” he told the publication.
“I live a fairly active life. I eat healthy, I don’t drink, I don’t smoke so when there is something wrong with my body I can tell. So when I felt a small irritation while sneezing, I felt in the first instance that it was time to go for testing.”
The PS revealed that he didn’t have severe symptoms but his doctors decided to admit him as they didn’t want to take any chances.
“You know when the Health CS reads those numbers on TV every day, we rarely think they are actual people. Here I was feeling that I am actually part of those numbers. It is a very humbling feeling,” said Kibicho.
“When you are sick in a room where you can’t leave until a doctor says so, you really reflect about your life a lot.”
He said none of his aides turned out positive despite spending a lot of time with them in his office and even when in the field.
On how he spent his days in the hospital, the PS said he read books and played Sudoku game.
He also had a treadmill installed in his hospital room and a mat for exercise.
The PS has recovered and is fully back to his work station at the Interior ministry.
He says that he has become more aware of his surrounding and wishes that everyone else could be more responsible as part of efforts to curb the spread of the virus.
“Being in a hospital bed for 15 days is not a joke. Today whenever I see someone without a mask, I notice it very quickly. If people are not properly social distanced, I ask myself why they are so close. Why are they hugging?
“I have very many friends and every week we are burying someone. Almost half of the people we are burying could have been Covid patients and they didn’t know. But unless we remove the stigma, we are still a long way from dealing with the virus, ” he said.