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Public gatherings suspended immediately as State intensifies efforts to tackle the global pandemic

COUNTIES
By Graham Kajilwa | March 14th 2020

Public gatherings suspended immediately as State intensifies efforts to tackle the global pandemic

The government has suspended all public gatherings with immediate effect as Kenyans came to terms with reality of the coronavirus case confirmed in the country.

The suspension, as announced yesterday by Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe, will affect church services, political rallies, prison visits and inter-school games.

However, schooling will still go on as per the calendar. Prison visits have been suspended for 30 days.

“For church, services can go on if they provide sanitisers,” said Kagwe.

The Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) rallies and upcoming devolution conference are some of the events to be affected.

“The suspension is for all public gatherings, no exceptions,” said the CS.

The suspension is in line with the Public Health Act, which the CS used to declare the ban. This can only happen in cases of a public health threat, like coronavirus, which the World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared a pandemic.

The Public Health Act 2017 stipulates that the ministry in charge of health shall “put in place policy intervention measures to reduce the burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases, emerging and reemerging diseases and neglected diseases.”

Kagwe, who is the chairperson of the National Emergency Response Committee set up by President Uhuru Kenyatta’s executive order, said from now henceforth, Kenyans should expect some inconveniences.

“But we apologise in advance. This is not an issue we look at as the government alone, this is a responsibility of every citizen,” he said.

The CS was accompanied by his Cabinet colleagues James Macharia (Transport), Najib Balala (Tourism), Joe Mucheru (ICT), Raychelle Omamo (Foreign Affairs) and Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang, government spokesman Cyrus Oguna, and Director of Public Health Kepher Ombacho.

“At this juncture, it is just a coronavirus infection that tested positive. There is no need to panic and Kenyans should go about their businesses as usual,” said Kagwe.

The invocation of the Public Health Act now requires counties to carry out rigorous education to ensure all Kenyans are aware of the virus and how to prevent its spread.

This involves washing hands, keeping distance socially, cleaning the environment and restriction from shaking hands.

All counties are required by tomorrow to have their level four and five hospitals ready to handle any suspected or confirmed cases.

The 47 county governments already have received personal protective equipment, distributed according to their risk assessment, between 5,000 and 10,000 pieces. “We have sufficient funding from the national government and World Bank so we have the necessary capacity,” said Kagwe. “Obviously there will be hiccups but when such happens, we ask for understanding and not criticism.”

The CS said while the virus spread has affected businesses due to reduced imports from China and other countries, traders should not use this opportunity to hike prices to maximise profit.

The disruption of normal activities will also be seen in the transport sector as public operators – matatu, commuter rail and the Standard Gauge Railway – are under instructions to provide sanitisers.

“We told them if they do not put in preventive measures, then there will be no business for them,” said Macharia.

The Transport CS said the government has had talks with airlines but he did not assert if there will be any more flight bans. Flights to Malindi from Italy have been suspended while South China Airlines suspended its direct flights to Nairobi after a public outcry.

Covid 19 Time Series

 

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