by David Karani
The government has set tough conditions to contain the coronavirus with a ban imposed on church services as well as mosques, closure of bars effective Sunday midnight and the conversion of all restaurants into takeaway facilities.
In a raft of measures announced by the minister for Health Mutahi Kagwe, the government has imposed a ban on flights landing in Kenya effective on wednesday midnight and police have been asked to enforce stringent measures for matatus which include reducing passengers on each vehicle and providing water to wash hands and sanitizers.
The new measures are in addition to those set up by government last Friday when the country still had seven cases of positive coronavirus.
Kagwe imposed the new measures during a press conference outside the Office of the President on Harambee avenue.
“In the last 72 hours, we have received confirmation of Eight (8)
new cases who have tested positive for Coronavirus in the
country. This now brings the number of those who have tested
positive to fifteen (15),” the health minister said.
Out of the latest eight (8) cases, five (5) are Kenyans and three
(3) are foreign nationals-two French and one Mexican. All the
eight are imported cases from Europe and America. The ages are
between 20 years for the youngest and 67years for the oldest.
He said all the eight came through the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport between March 4th and March 17th, 2020.
“They have all been isolated at various facilities and are being monitored by our teams,” Kagwe added.
He said the government was tracing 363 persons who had come into contact with patients adding that so far they have only three people awaiting processing at Mbagathi hospital. The rest have been processed and
Said Kagwe; “All the patients, except one who is at the Coast are in stable
condition. The government is organizing to have the patient
airlifted to Nairobi for further treatment.”
The minister said the measures he was making were guided by the trends that have observed in other countries.
“Evidence from other countries indicate that the number of
infected persons increases dramatically in the second week
following confirmation of a first case”, he added.
He said indications are that this coming two weeks are extremely
critical for Kenya, as the country seeks to contain the outbreak.
The minister however said it had been noted that majority of Kenyans
have continued to ignore these measures and are behaving as if
it’s business as usual.
“Like I cautioned last week, this is not a joke, Kenyans MUST treat
this matter with the seriousness it deserves, by adjusting and
changing their lifestyles. If we continue to behave normally, this
disease will treat us abnormally,” Kagwe said.
In addition to the measures already announced, the
National Emergency Response Committee (NERC) resolved as follows:
1) All international flights are suspended effective Wednesday March 25th, 2020 at midnight with the exception of cargo flights
whose crew must observe strict guidelines. Those coming into
the country between now and Wednesday will undergo
mandatory quarantine at a government designated facility at
their own expense.
2) Whereas we had allowed Kenyans and foreigners with valid
residence permits to come in to the country, we have observed
that there are those who are not observing the self-quarantine
protocol. Consequently NERC has decided that all persons who
violate the self-quarantine requirement will be forcefully
quarantined for a full period of 14 days at their cost, and
thereafter arrested and charged under the Public Health Act.
3) Effective midnight tonight, all BARS will remain closed until
further notice. Restaurants are to remain open but only for
purposes of facilitating take away services. This is meant to
secure the social distance requirement, noting the increased risk
of transmission these facilities cause.
4) Further in order to give effect to the social distance
requirement in the public transport sector all public service
vehicles must adhere to the directive issued on Friday March 20th, 2020 failure to which the respective Sacco licenses will be
revoked. The Inspector General of Police has been already
directed to enforce this directive.
5) Lastly, having noted the non-compliance of religious institutions to the social distance requirement as issued on Friday March 20th, 2020, the NERC has directed the suspension of all church, mosques, and other religious gatherings. This also include weddings, funerals and other social gatherings which are restricted to immediate family members only. These directives take effect immediately until further notice.