Opening up the economy and setting up larger Covid-19 isolation centres dominated the debate of a joint Covid-19 response team summit held at State House in Nairobi on Wednesday.
The team, comprising the leaders from national and county governments, met to deliberate on the guidelines on how the country will achieve the new normal from the adverse effects inflicted by the pandemic.
The Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiang’i and Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, who is also the Chair of Council of Governors led the team. It comes days after President Uhuru Kenyatta announced the extension of containment measures such as partial curfew and lockdowns in Nairobi and Mombasa for extra 30 days.
Addressing the nation on June 6, from State House, the President also revealed that the National and County Governments Coordinating Summit would be convened to relook the measures.
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And after having met for the first time, the team came up with a raft of recommendations as the country to steer the country to normalcy.
It resolved that Kenyans would have to continue following the social distance rules for unforeseeable future, till coronavirus vaccine is realised.
“As researchers and scientists endeavour to find a medical vaccine for Covid-19, Kenyans already have a social vaccine against the Disease; one of wearing of properly wearing appropriate facemasks, rigorous and frequent handwashing, physical and social distancing,” the team said on its recommendations.
After it emerged that almost all the 47 counties are ill-equipped to combat the virus, with majority lacking beds in isolation facilities; the team recommended a threshold of bed capacities to be achieved by the counties in 30 days.
It stated: “To enhance the national preparedness to manage a possible surge of the Disease, there jointly needs to be 30,500 isolation bed facilities across the country; and to that end, each County Government shall establish isolation facilities with at least 300 beds.”
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The group highlighted the increased risks the disease poses in counties on boundaries of the country and those within which refugee camps are located. To shelve them from the burden, the national government pledged more support for the intervention measures against the disease.
The cooperation between the two levels of government is also to play out in the making of the new 2020 educational calendar. In this, the Ministry of Education will work closely with the Council of Governors to enable learners to resume studies.
The health providers have also been urged to continue offering maternal services and immunisation as they have been doing under normal circumstances.
The consultation will also involve discussions between religious leaders and the two levels of government to open up the places of worship. The team further recommended another meeting in the next week for the review of the measures.
“The Summit shall reconvene on Wednesday the June 17, 2020 to consider the guidelines for gradual re-opening of the economy; easing the containment measures in place; and protocols to guide the progressive re-opening of places of worship,” it stated.
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