COVID-19: What are President Kenyatta’s options ahead of his national address?

COVID-19: What are President Kenyatta’s options ahead of his national address?

In just a few hours from now, President Uhuru Kenyatta is scheduled to address the nation, in what many expect will be the announcement of a new raft of measures to beat COVID-19 nearly one year since Kenya recorded her first case

His address coming at a time when the country is seeing a surge in the number of infections, deaths and hospital admissions that the government has conceded to be the third wave of covid-19 infections.

It is this statement coupled with the latest statistics on COVID-19 in Kenya that have set the tone for a new round of restrictions to curb what the government has conceded to be the emergence of the third wave of virus infections.

Kenya’s positivity rate, for the last four months, has remained well below 10 percent until March.

Experts say this is attributable to increased political gatherings in the last few months in the run-up to various by-elections as well as to drum up support for the BBI referendum Bill.

“From a scientific point, the political gatherings have been the most causative element for the spread.” Says Dr. Andrew Mulwa, Health CEC, Machakos County.

It is against this backdrop that the Council of Governors (COG) recommended a cessation of all gatherings of political nature.

“We urge the president to halt all political gatherings for the next 3o days in order to flatten the curve,” said COG Chairman and Embu Governor Martin Wambora.

Sights of Kenyans walking around with little care for basic COVID-19 guidelines such as wearing masks could also be compounding the prevailing upsurge in cases.

Despite the growing number of confirmed cases, a cross-section of Kenyans are hopeful that the president will relax restrictions such as the curfew hours during his address on Friday.

The daunting options

President Kenyatta is faced with the task of balancing between enhancing measures to stem the new wave of COVID-19 cases while allowing Kenyans to continue eking out a livelihood.

But just what are the president’s options?

“The govt. has done relatively little to safeguard the economy. There is a real risk of too many people falling behind economically with grave social consequences and therefore the logical next step must be to remove curfew restrictions and allow businesses, “ says Ken Gichinga, Chief Economist, Mentoria Economics.

“Any decision the president makes tomorrow must ensure the national exams are not interrupted, maybe extending the curfew hours to 10. Making pronouncement on political gatherings, ”added Dr. Mulwa.

March 13 will would mark exactly a year since the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Kenya, with a daunting fact of health facilities lacking bed to accommodate the sickly.

All eyes and ears now turn to what President Kenyatta will announce in his 14th address to the nation on the COVID-19 pandemic which has since claimed 1,899 lives in Kenya and 111,185 confirmed infections.

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