Mask-defiance as COVID-19 cases rise in Kenya

Kenya has put in place tougher penalties for anyone found in public without a face mask. They're part of the latest measures to curb the spread of COVID-19. But many are still reluctant to wear a mask. 

But as CGTN's Enock Sikolia reports, It's compulsory for Kenyans to wear a face mask while in public.

Non-compliance could attract a hefty fine of $200.

Amid rising cases of COVID-19, police have instructions to arrest and instantly charge those found flouting the rules.

The idea is that people who have COVID-19 are less likely to emit droplets and infect others while wearing face masks.

But many don't wear a face mask or covering when they leave the house.

Others do not wear it correctly even when in close contact with the rest.

Wallace Kamau, Motorcycle Taxi Rider argues, "Many people are wearing masks because they don't want to get arrested because of the current rules and not because there's coronavirus."

Kamau says there's conflicting messaging by those in authority. "For example politicians have been holding rallies with people without masks and so it seems like it's not a serious thing. Let them first show us that they are serious."

"According to experts, those who do not follow health guidelines such as wearing of face masks, usually have a handful of reasons."

"African countries have failed to provide at least masks even if its reusable masks for their people coz the same people are struggling to make a living every single day and the choice becomes buying a mask and buying food," Dr. Chibanzi Mwachonda, Head, Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union submits.

Dr. Mwachonda says there's a lack of continued sensitization at the community level. "Earlier on in the pandemic, there was a lot of fear and that's what brought about the behaviour change that you saw where people were washing their hands, sanitising and putting on masks but the fear is now gone and largely because we haven't seen severe infections in the African continent like what we have seen in Europe and America."

The East African nation is facing a second surge in COVID-19 cases with experts warning that calls to continue wearing a mask cannot be ignored during this pandemic period.