Uhuru orders schools to be closed to curb coronavirus spread

Pupils of Angelina Jolie Primary School on July 24, 2019. President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered immediate closure of schools to curb coronavirus spread.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has ordered the immediate closure of schools to curb coronavirus spread.

He addressed the media at Harambee House on Sunday when he confirmed two more cases of coronavirus in the country.

The first case was reported in Kenya on March 13, when Health CS Mutahi Kagwe urged the public to remain calm.

On the school closure, Uhuru ordered school administrations to ensure all students in boarding school are home by Friday.

Uhuru was flanked by several CSs, among them Education's George Magoha, who said there is no cause for alarm.

"Starting tomorrow, we expect all day scholars to remain at home."

A circular on the detailed instructions on schools closure will be released tomorrow, Magoha added.

Universities have until Friday to close. Reopening will be communicated at a later date.

The order comes a few days after top Ministry of Education officials held a crisis meeting as confusion rocked management of public schools after the first case of coronavirus was reported.

Public school heads got in touch with the Ministry of Education seeking clarification on whether schools should remain open following government ban of public gatherings.

Teachers unions also joined in the push for more clarity from the ministry, asking for urgent guidelines to help keep the virus away from schools.

CS Kagwe announced that the government had suspended all public gatherings, meetings and events.

He also announced that all inter-school events have been suspended.

This means all term one school events such as drama and music festivals, athletics, basketball, hockey handball games which are already ongoing at county level, stand suspended.

The government cancelled a planned Sunday drill on coronavirus preparedness slated for Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) and at the Infectious diseases unit in Mbagathi County Hospital. 

The Health ministry ditched the plan after the country confirmed its first case on Friday, making the drill unnecessary.

Government Spokesperson Col Cyrus Oguna said the exercise was “no longer necessary” as there is already a coronavirus patient being attended to in one of the facilities.

“It does not make sense to carry out a drill when the country already has a patient to attend to at KNH,” said Oguna.

CS Kagwe had urged Kenyans not to panic as what was to happen was a simulation exercise to test the country’s readiness to handle the virus.