President Uhuru Kenyatta’s announcement that a patient with coronavirus had recovered was a much-needed ray of hope for a country anxious about the pandemic.
It was welcome news on a day the number of confirmed cases rose by three to 28. The country has not recorded any deaths since the first case was announced on March 13.
President Uhuru said numerous other suspected cases had tested negative after rigorous lab analysis.
“More importantly, we have today registered one recovery. This is a clear indication that we can, and we will beat this virus,” Uhuru said yesterday during an address from State House.
The patient was the country’s first confirmed coronavirus case. Codenamed Patient Zero, she is a Kenyan woman, aged 27, who flew into the country from the US via London.
The president noted that, so far, 184 countries had been affected, with the number of confirmed cases standing at 438,749. Globally, the disease has claimed 19,675 lives. Italy, Spain and China lead in mortality rates with 6,820, 3,434 and 3,163 deaths respectively.
Covid-19 does not have a cure and patients are treated by managing the symptoms, which include coughing, fever, and mild to severe pneumonia. Some experimental drugs like chloroquine and HIV anti-retroviral therapy medication are also being tested.
Even with the patient’s recovery, Uhuru announced more stringent measures that are meant to prevent the spread of the disease.
The president said the National Security Council, which he chairs, has sanctioned the issuance of a public order designed to control the movement of citizens.
“That effective Friday March 27, 2020; a daily curfew from 7pm to 5am shall be in effect in the territory of the Republic of Kenya with all movement by persons not authorised to do so, or not being medical professionals, health workers, critical and essential service providers, being prohibited between those hours.”
Kenya has now joined Senegal, South Africa, Rwanda and Uganda which have also issued lockdown directives.
The list provided by the government has 13 critical and essential service providers, among them, medical professionals; national police, administration and coordination officers; public health and sanitation officers in the counties; licensed pharmacies and drug stores; licensed broadcasters and media houses; Kenya Power staff; food dealers, distributors, wholesalers, transporters of farm produce, licensed supermarkets, mini-markets and hypermarkets.
Others are licensed distributors and retailers of petrol and petroleum products; licensed telecommunication operators; licensed banks and financial institutions; fire brigade and emergency response service providers, and licensed security firms.
The president further ordered the management of Kenya Ferry Services to be vested in the National Police Service, the Coast Guard and national government administration officers with immediate effect.
This move is to ensure all persons who use the ferry are screened, as well as to enforce the social distancing directive.
“Social distancing, whether we like it or not, is now our new normal. It must be our new way of life until such a time that we conquer this pandemic,” Uhuru said.
“The most effective way to beat this virus is through basic changes of behaviour and hygiene,” he added.
The counties said to be high risk are Nairobi, Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale.