Health CS Mutahi Kagwe has told Kenyans to prepare for any eventuality, saying trends in countries that are adversely affected by the coronavirus show that there is always a big spike in the two weeks following the first reported case.
”Evidence from other countries indicate that the number of infected person increases dramatically in the second week following confirmation of the first case.
“Consequently, the next two weeks are extremely critical for this country,” he said during a media briefing on the update of how the country is dealing with coronavirus.
Yesterday, four more people suspected to be having the virus were admitted at Mbagathi Hospital’s isolation unit, and one of them tested negative, while the remaining three are still waiting for their results.
The Health Ministry is also following a case in Kilifi County where a suspected patient has been put on quarantine. The first case of coronavirus was reported a week ago, and the government has been taking measures to curb further spread.
Announcing the measures that had been resolved by the National Emergency Response Committee, Kagwe said mass transport vehicles must reduce the number of people they carry per trip.
“It is directed that 14-seater matatus carry a maximum number of eight passengers; 25-seaters to have a maximum of 15 and 30-seaters and above to maintain 60 per cent maximum seating capacity. This applies to SGR and commuter train services,” he said.
This move is expected to disrupt the mass transport industry, with matatu owners already saying they will have to hike fares to make up for the losses.
“A business must make sense. If you reduce your source of revenue, you have to come up with a way of making up for the difference. Unless the government is giving us free fuel or at subsidised rates, the fares will have to go up,” said Simon Kimutai, the chairman of Matatu Owners Association.
CS Kagwe added that every sector will have to take an economic hit, and coronavirus reduces the possibility of companies and individuals making profits this year.
“We will have an economic challenge. There is no institution that will not be affected. Landlords must be understanding when tenants fail to pay rent. Mortgage companies must be understanding. Let us now focus on saving lives,” he said.
Kagwe also ordered that all pubs and social spaces be closed to the public by 7.30pm everyday until further notice, effective Monday 23rd. During open hours, the facilities have been told to only admit a limited number of patrons, who should sit 1.5 metres away from each other.
Supermarkets have also been told to admit a limited number of shoppers based on the size of their premises. They have been told to embrace home deliveries and consider 24-hour operations.
“Upon request, the government will facilitate provision of security personnel,” he said.
The CS told county governments to prioritise garbage collection, and that they have planned for a market sanitisation at Gikomba market today.
Mohammed Kuti, the Council of Governors Health Committee chairperson urged Kenyans to stay home as much as possible, and for counties to take matters about cleanliness seriously.
“Focus is on general cleanliness. These coming few weeks are going to be critical in how we fight this disease,” he said.
Kagwe urged Kenyans to take personal responsibility and ignore guidance by some church leaders to continue going to church.
“Controlling coronavirus is your responsibility. It is what will determine whether we fail or succeed,” he said.
He said they have come up with different models on what to do in case the situation gets worse.