Kenya moved with speed to put in place measures to contain the spread of the Coronavirus since it was first reported in the country on the 12th of March.
On the 27th March, 2020 the president announced a nationwide dusk-to-dawn curfew. Then on the 5th of April, 2020 he augmented it by announcing the Cessation of Movement into and out of a number of areas. Later on, more measures were announced to contain the havoc visited upon us by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The latest state of the Nation Address by Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta has seen the country extend some of the measures by a furher 30 days.
“Given this trajectory, and the fact that this crisis requires a long term strategy, I took time to reflect on “…What must be Done”. If we lift the cessation of movement ban, how will this help us fight the Pandemic? And if we do not, how will the ban affect our economy, especially, the micro business enterprises and those who derive their livelihoods from them?” president Kenyatta said in his statement.
The president announced the new orders expected to help contain the spread of the virus in the country. They include:
- That the cessation of movement into and out of the Eastleigh Area of Nairobi and the specific limitations in force with respect to the Mombasa Old Town Area that is currently in force, shall lapse at 4:00 a.m. on 7th of June, 2020.
- That in view of the successful containment of the disease in the Counties of Kilifi and Kwale, the cessation of movement into and out of the two Counties that is currently in force, shall lapse at 4:00 a.m. on 7th of June, 2020.
- That following stakeholder’s consultations in the education sector – the Ministry of Education jointly with the Ministry of Health issues and publicizes guidelines on a gradual and progressive return to normalcy in the education sector by the Third Term, from 1st September, 2020. Further, that the ministry announces the new school calendar by mid -August.
- That following consultations with interfaith and religious organizations, the Ministries of Interior and Health within seven days, constitutes an Inter-Faith Council, to work out modalities and protocols of re-opening of the places of worship.
- That in the meantime, the ban on all forms of gatherings, including but not limited to political gatherings, social gatherings, including bars be and is hereby extended for a further 30 days.
- That due to the evolving nature of the disease globally, international travel restrictions are hereby extended. In the meantime, the Ministry of Transport is directed within seven days from the date hereof, to engage all Key Stakeholders and develop protocols to guide resumption of local air travel.
- That due to the increase in patterns of infections, the cessation of movement into and out of the Nairobi Metropolitan Area, Mombasa and Mandera be further extended by 30 days.
- To accord all Kenyans the opportunity to enjoy a full-day’s work, the nationwide dusk-to-dawn curfew currently in force until today the 6th June, 2020, be and is extended for a further 30 days. However, the commencement time for the same is varied from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.; with the end time for the same being varied from 5:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m. Therefore, effective 7th June, 2020 the national wide dusk-to-dawn Curfew will run from 9:00 O’clock in the evening to 4:00 O’clock in the morning.
This happens even as Kenya was recently ranked the third largest economy in Sub-Sahara Africa.
According to the president if the country had not taken the stringent measures it did in March 2020, the rate of infections would have peaked to 800,000 people by July 30th 2020.
“And if one infected person has potential to infect two people, this number would have hit 2.4 million people in 21 days. By the end of august, 75,000 Kenyans would have died from this virus. But because of the early interventions we took, we have recorded only 2,600 infections and 83 deaths.” President Kenyatta added.
The president noted that relaxing the interventions by 20 per cent would lead to 200,000 infections and 30,000 deaths by December 2020. Experts also predicted that a frther relaxing of the by 40 per cent would see the infections peak in November 2020 with 300,000 infected and 40,000 deaths.
“And if we relax them by 60%, the pandemic will peak in October with 450,000 infections and 45,000 deaths.” The president added.
The country is also grappling with handling the current number of positive cases even as the numbers continue to spike.
“Have we met the second minimum of a prepared health system with isolation facilities? I will answer that question by giving you two examples. Siaya County has a ten (10) bed isolation facility and they have already admitted nine (9) Covid-19 patients from only one incident. Similarly, Busia County has a thirty-four (34) bed isolation facility. And by two days ago, it was full.” President Kenyatta noted.
If there is a surge in infections in these two counties, the health care system will be overwhelmed.
So far, the Kenyan government has already disbursed Sh5 billion ($47.10 million) to the counties to increase their health care capacity in view of this pandemic. But to build the necessary health infrastructure for such undertakings requires time. We must get ahead of this pandemic by creating lead time.