President Kenyatta locks down 5 counties, extends ban on all forms of gatherings until further notice
Five counties have been placed on a partial lockdown in the wake of rising infections and fatalities arising from COVID-19.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has declared Nairobi, Machakos, Kiambu, Kajiado and Nakuru Counties as individually and collectively disease infected areas.
Speaking at State House, Nairobi where he announced the most drastic containment measures yet against COVID-19, President Kenyatta said, “In terms of geographical impact, Nairobi County accounts for 60 percent of cases. This means that out of every ten cases, six are from Nairobi. If we test every five people in Nairobi, three are likely to be positive. This unfortunate turn of events calls for urgent and drastic measures.”
As such, President Kenyatta directed that there will be a cessation of all movement by road, rail or air into and out of the five counties, effective midnight tonight.
President Kenyatta has equally revised curfew hours in the five counties with the curfew beginning at 8 p.m and ending at 4 a.m. However, the rest of the country shall remain under the previous 10pm to 4am curfew.
The President has also suspended gatherings and in-person meetings in the five counties until further notice. This will apply to Cabinet meetings as well as sessions of Parliament and County Assemblies.
“All in-person meetings of the Cabinet and its Committees, with the exception of meetings of the National Security Council are suspended until further notice. The Ordinary Sessions of the August Houses including those of their Committees, and the Ordinary Sessions of the County Assemblies of Nairobi, Machakos, Kajiado, Kiambu and Nakuru, are hereby suspended, until further notice.”
He has directed that the Speakers of the National Assembly and the Senate to move to effect these decisions.
Further, the operation of bars has also been indefinitely suspended in the five counties while restaurants in the affected counties will only provide takeaway services. Equally, restaurants in the counties will not be allowed to sell alcohol. Worship activities in the counties also stand suspended, until otherwise reviewed. However, all other counties in-person worship shall adhere to the one-third rule.
Further, President Kenyatta directed the suspension of all learning activities across the country except for KCSE candidates and medical students. Further, all sporting activities and operations of sporting and recreational facilities have been suspended.
The announcement of the new measures comes barely two weeks after President Kenyatta extended the 10 p.m to 4 a.m curfew and suspended political gatherings as part of measures to stem the rise in new COVID-19 infections.
In his 14th address on COVID-19, President Kenyatta acknowledged that Kenya was in “…squarely in the grip of third wave of the pandemic.”
The Head of State also said, “While cases in January were 4380, the positivity rate has jumped from 2 percent to 22 percent in March with 15.916 cases as of the 21st of March. What this means is that, if you test 100 Kenyans for COVID-19 today, 20 will be positive; compared to January when only 2 would have been positive. This tells us that our rate of infection has gone up 10 times between January and March 2021.
President Kenyatta further noted with concern the rising number of fatalities arising from COVID-19 in the country. “What is more worrying is the rising death rate in the country. Between January and February, 3 people were dying daily. Today, 7 people die daily highest since the onset of the pandemic.”
The President also decried the steep and sustained rise in COVID-19 hospital admissions in the last month, saying “…the stress the pandemic is placing on our health system is unparalleled.” “Since my last address on March 12, 7,630 Kenyans have been admitted contrary to 4,930 Kenyans who had been admitted before the address. Admissions have increased by 52 percent. In January, only 20 Kenyans needed ICU, since March over 950 Kenyans are in ICU wards for COVID-19 related complications.”, said President Kenyatta.
With the introduction of the new containment measures, President Kenyatta said that the third wave is expected to peak in the next 30 days with more than 2500 daily cases and will flatten in May 2021 if swift measures are adopted.
The President reiterated his earlier directive that burials be conducted within 72 hours of an individual’s death and that attendance be limited to 50 people with other ceremonies such as weddings being limited to 30 persons.
Public transport operators have, on their part, been directed to continue adhering to 60 percent capacity. The President has called on County Emergency Response teams to enforce adherence of protocols.
In what is expected to be received as good news to the tourism sector, International travel into and out of the country shall continue in accordance with COVID-19 protocols. President Kenyatta however insisted that anyone landing into the country must be COVID negative and have a negative certificate acquired no more than 96 hours prior to arrival.
The President has also directed employers with the exemption of essential services that cannot operate from home to allow their employees to work from home. Equally, in light of the abuse of curfew passes and exemption, President Kenyatta has directed the ministry of interior and health to review curfew passes and exemptions and all issued passes are vacated.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has further directed vaccination of people aged 58 years and above since they fall in the high-risk bracket. He has also implored Kenyans to shun vaccine misinformation and get vaccinated. Also while the containment measures are temporary, President Kenyatta is imploring on Kenyans to practice personal responsibility to help contain the spread of the virus. “You, kama wananchi watukufu, have equally an important role to play. The starting point is for us to agree that the Government cannot police your morality or impose prudence, and love for self and others. Individual Kenyans must shoulder their role in the fight against COVID-19.”, said President Kenyatta.
Immediately after his speech, President Kenyatta led a vaccination exercise in which he along with First Lady, Margaret Kenyatta, several Cabinet Secretaries and high-ranking public officials were vaccinated at State House, Nairobi. Among the Cabinet Secretaries who took the jab include Health CS Mutahi Kagwe, Interior CS Dr. Fred Matiang’i, and Foreign Affairs CS Raychelle Omamo.