Of all the COVID-prevention measures, the mass covering of faces is, at least visibly, among the most dramatic. Masks are mandatory in most countries amid fears about human rights concerns and invasion of privacy, and the stigma has generally been against those wearing face coverings.
It’s possible that this may now shift to those who don’t. People are being asked to be on their own and having it suggested that they should wear masks. Normally, if you were walking on your own and saw someone in a mask, you might be concerned and avoid them. But now it’s less clear when and if you should be afraid.
In the US, Jorge Elorza, Mayor of Providence, Rhode Island, went as far as saying citizens should “socially shame” the maskless “so they fall in line.” But the fact that mask-wearing can be exploited by violent criminals could put law-abiding citizens on edge. Whether someone wishes to cause harm or not, being unable to see someone’s face conceals crucial emotional cues that humans rely on for survival.
When you see a face you do two things at once. You try to work out the identity: Do I know them? How do I know them? And you try to read their emotions. “Emotion recognition is important from an evolutionary perspective as it helps us gauge threat and can also facilitate positive social interactions. That’s true of both people we know well and those we have never met.
If mask-wearing is taken up in a big way, this will inevitably affect how humans interact and could lead to greater tension between members of the public, with personal security implications. Clearly, any move towards a faceless society will be a huge deal for most countries.
However, he adds that all hope is not lost. Predatory crimes are increasingly uncommon and we may find other ways of reading one another. I think we’ll quite quickly get used to picking up social and emotional cues from voice cues or body language.
So while mask-wearing has been common for years in some Asian countries, mass uptake among countries will be a big shift for citizens who value personal freedoms and are unused to heavy-handed governance.
However, the readiness with which these populations took on lockdown measures suggests that if face-covering becomes commonplace, herd mentality could kick in. There will be a new great unknown: How will countries cope with populations that are more jittery in each other’s company and suspicious of their fellow citizens?
One Chinese firm has already claimed it has developed software that can accurately identify people, even if they are wearing masks. However, experts still think we are a way off, this becoming a norm that can be used in all circumstances.
I think it’s important that if we see claims around a specific algorithm, we don’t then apply it to all algorithms because each has its own strengths and weakness. We still need to do a lot more research.
Obscuring faces creates other problems for law enforcement, particularly when it comes to establishing what constitutes suspicious behavior. It was only last year that places like Hong Kong and France were passing laws making it illegal to obscure your face during a protest.
His name is Stephen Wamukota, a simple young boy who grabbed President Uhuru Kenyatta’s attention and received a State commendation. A young boy who used his knowledge and wisdom to innovate a hand washing machine considering his tender age. A boy who had observed the struggles of fellow citizens in washing their hands in order to protect their health as Kenyans adopted to the new normal.
With the tremendous amount of time he has at home, the youngster who is only nine years old designed a unique handwashing machine which uses pedals that one steps on for it to release soap and water. In his innovation, one does not need to touch anything to wash their hands, thus people can comfortably wash their hands without fear of contracting the Coronavirus.
The youngster who hails from Bungoma County is proof that there are no barriers to growth and innovation but the will-power is what is critical for any idea, innovation or any form of growth. He was visionary and used his creativity together with the locally available materials to build a machine that he never knew would get him such recognition. With the assistance of his father whom he had approached, the little boy was able to complete his handwashing machine with only Sh3,000 spent.
This is the kind of creativity and talent that should be nurtured throughout the country as Kenyans are creative and talented individuals who are able to take the country to greater heights. It is a reflection of what the President said that our Founding Fathers had envisioned a nation that drew from itself and for itself. With such talent that is immense in many Kenyan homes though unexposed, the country has great potential in innovation as has been observed from the various innovations which have come up as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, including the team of University students who designed and built a customized ventilator, who also received the Uzalendo Award on Madaraka Day.
Reflecting on the President’s speech, Kenya is indeed still a work in progress and the country must rise up with its immense talent and skills. As we reimagine our dream and nationhood, these are the skills and talents that should be tapped into. The President further reminded Kenyans on what Tom Joseph Mboya pointed out in his book “Freedom and After “ that great things are made of a series of small things.
This young boy was inspired, had an idea, tried and succeeded. He had the motivation and the will power. Step by step, he built on his idea with what he had around him, which is what Kenya needs and should tap on. We all have a civic duty to build our nation in one way or the other, and even during this time of the pandemic. Taking care of our health is paramount for the health and well being of our nation. Step by step, Kenya has been moving forward in its infrastructural developments which have greatly opened up the economy and created opportunities for Kenyans.
Despite the pitfalls of the pandemic, Kenyans should use this time to restrategise and reinvent on opportunities presented as we await to get back to revive and rebuild our economy in a bigger and better way.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it an unprecedented top up of free time due to the many disruptions it came with including, but not limited to, movement restrictions and curfew.
For many Kenyan citizens, the overflow of time has hardly resulted in increased output as the use of the surplus remains a puzzle to most. ‘Lockdown’ fatigue has already hit a large section of Kenyans with many resulting to illegal dealings to kill boredom during this period.
Authorities have thus far reported the arrest of hundreds drinking out of prohibited entertainment joints contrary to government directives. Meanwhile, many more spend their excess time scratching their heads over what is or what should have been. The eat-sleep-repeat routine has been one of the favorite go-to options.
However, experts reckon this is not the time to let the extra time waste away, time is money and must always count, especially during this period that we have lots of it. As others worry of the current situation, someone else is looking to adapt the conditions to their advantage.
You can never lack an opportunity; to grow and contribute, develop a skill, an emotion or feeling so that you can become a better person. The opportunity presents itself to build connections and learn new things. What you do with this time will determine your success.
Additionally, one must not trouble themselves with what they cannot control as he or she draws parallels from the serenity prayer synonymous with Alcohol Anonymous (AA) groups. You seek to do your best but cannot control whatever is outside yourself. You cannot stress yourself up over tomorrow. The only control you have is today and is based on your strengths.
Experts reckon that this is the time to redeem one’s financial position. Drawing reference to three pointers; revelation, conviction and action, now is the time to prioritize on goals previously shelved. Let’s say you have always thought of starting up a business or pursuing a talent but lacked the time. This is now the time to try it out. To be successful in life one must try out a number of things to find success.
Moreover, financial experts argues that the window to reorganize personal budgets and shore up savings is now open as secondary expenditures such as eating out and partying stand frozen. The time is now to save more and spend less.
With much of the globe now under coronavirus-related restrictions, we have never been so tethered to our screens for work, to connect with friends, to unwind or to distract ourselves.
One new estimate suggested that adults are spending more than 13 hours a day using screens, a spike up from 10 hours a day a year ago. With children cut off from physically attending school, they are more reliant on laptops and tablets for online lessons and entertainment.
And with our new routines likely to have a lot more screen time for the foreseeable future, experts say it’s important to learn how to protect our eyes from suffering as a result. While there is no evidence of long-term eye damage from extended use of smartphones, computer screens or other devices, prolonged use can sometimes lead to blurred vision, eye fatigue, dry or irritated eyes and headaches, according to eye health experts.
Dr. Raj Maturi, the clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology and a retina specialist, called these symptoms “digital vision syndrome.” He, along with the doctors at the Moorfield Eye Hospital, recommended a 20-20-20 approach; for every 20 minutes spent at a screen you must take a break and look 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds.
When you are looking at a close target, your eyes are just training that one muscle at all time, and looking into the distance can relieve it. While it’s close work, rather than screen use per se, that strains our eyes. Dr Maturi said that looking at bright devices can make us blink less, which leaves our eyes feeling dry.
When things are bright, we blink less. It’s behavioral. So we can train ourselves to blink more often and blink fully. If you’re already suffering from dry eyes, he recommended the use of artificial tears. Set up correctly, the top of your computer screen should be in line with your eyes and about 18 to 30 inches from where you’re sitting and tilted back slightly.
Dr. Rachel Bishop of National Eye Institute, agreed that where your screen is positioned is important. “If you are looking down, then your eyelid is shut a bit and you’re not having as much evaporation which can help prevent dry eyes. If you’re looking up high, your eye dries much quicker,” she said.
Other steps you can take include dimming the surrounding lights so that the screen is brighter in comparison and cleaning your computer screen regularly to avoid dust buildup, which can obscure the screen and cause eye irritation.
If you or your children continue to have vision problems after making these fixes, experts recommended seeking advice from an ophthalmologist or optician as it could be a sign of an uncorrected eye problems like long-sightedness or astigmatism.
When we go outside, we look at a blue sky, that’s blue light. The issue with blue light is at night. It can delay your ability to sleep quickly. People turn their devices to night mode or use e-readers with screens that more closely resemble a physical book. The key was to look at how many nits a display had – a measurement of luminance or brightness.
To protect kids’ eyes, parents should encourage them to spend as much time outside as possible within restrictions that are in place where you live to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The past two decades have seen a massive increase in myopia or short-sightedness among children and while scientists can’t agree on exactly what has caused this rise and whether there’s any link to screen use, they do know that spending time outdoors, especially in early childhood, can slow its progression.
We should know more in a few years when research comes up with more answers, but for parents, they have a dilemma because the school is now brought into the screen and kids’ social engagements are now brought into the screen and kids are playing their games on a screen.
The coronavirus is forcing enterprises to rethink the way they do business and dust off policies for security, business continuity, and remote workers. Chances are that some of these efforts will stick.
The coronavirus outbreak may speed up the evolution of work and ultimately retool multiple industries as everything from conferences to collaboration to sales and commercial real estate are rethought. But in the grand scheme of things, the coronavirus scare may just accelerate changes in work already in play.
Travel bans may retool sales and marketing practices as companies realize maybe those cross-country escapades for drinks and dinner don’t deliver economic returns. And if most of the workforce can work from home without productivity loss, it’s going to be hard to justify commercial real estate costs.
Simply put, the coronavirus scare may just show us a better way to work. How enterprises navigate the coronavirus and changes to work will be telling. One thing is certain: The coronavirus is likely to mean the definition of business, as usual, will change.
Seventeen years ago, the e-commerce business experienced tremendous growth after SARS. We believe that adversity will be followed by change in behavior among consumers and enterprises and bring ensuing opportunities. We have observed more and more consumers getting comfortable with taking care of their daily living needs and working requirements through digital means.
We are confident in the ongoing digitization of Kenya’s economy and society and are ready to see the opportunity to build the foundation for the long-term growth of Kenya’s digital economy. Ultimately, coronavirus is going to lead to more efficient operations and perhaps lead to better work practices and profits.
While coronavirus will hit certain parts of the economy hard, enterprises may see real savings. The modern workforce and the companies that employ them have increasingly embraced the concept of telecommuting. The benefits are well documented, including stress reduction, increased productivity, a wider talent pool, and better employee retention rates.
Even so, it’s important to establish ground rules to keep the remote work program effective and manageable. This set of policies will help guide you and your remote workers toward a successful telecommuting arrangement.
As more and more employees request the opportunity to perform some or all of their work from a remote location, the need has grown for organizations to have clearly defined guidelines that govern employee and company expectations and responsibilities.
When the novel coronavirus was first reported, many Kenyans brushed it off as a foreign malady that was inconsistent with the black man’s burden. Recent incidences have confirmed that the coronavirus is no respecter of race, class, age or region.
The effects of the scourge are pervasive, with significant economic, social and political implications. Due to this pervasiveness, the national government has taken charge of control and prevention measures despite health being a devolved function.
The response of county governments to the pandemic has been equally uninspiring. One would have expected a more strategic response that focuses on stopping the spread, providing health care to those infected and creating an economic parachute to the sectors affected by the pandemic.
To control the spread of the coronavirus to the counties, each county government should set up a properly resourced testing centre at the level five hospitals. This will provide 47 testing centres in addition to the two established by the national government.
Each of the level five hospitals should also create isolation units with a minimum capacity of 100 beds, which will bring the national capacity to at least 5,000 beds. Counties should review and reallocate their budgets from grand infrastructure projects to health. Most county health budgets are consumed by salaries and allowances, leaving little room for acquisition of equipment and expansion of facilities.
To further finance health, county governments should reallocate budgets to public health initiatives aimed at sensitising the public on threats of the coronavirus and other health complications that affect respective counties.
County governments should waive fees and permits and offer a moratorium on outstanding rates. This waiver would not have grave consequences on budgets since the majority of counties’ own source revenues contribute less than five per cent of total budgets.
Finally, county governments should automate their processes and build capacity in virtual working, which includes teleworking and telemedicine. Most county governments do not have the technological capacity to serve their customers remotely or to aid their staff to work from home.
Investments in cloud solutions, virtual private networks and voice over internet protocols need not be costly. There are many pocket-friendly open-source options whose implementation could be guided by an enterprise architecture defined by the national government.
Anybody who claims to know how the Corona pandemic will pan out is playing a dangerous game of being God. The uncertainties we face will require everyone to hope for the best but prepare for the worst. County governments must prepare for a reduction in equitable share in subsequent years as national revenue forecasts grow dim.
All of us must be prepared to do more with little.