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Uhuru reviews measures as Covid-19 cases spike


President Uhuru Kenyatta chairs the Sixth Extraordinary Session of the National and County Governments Coordinating Summit at State House, Nairobi. [PSCU, Standard]

President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday called out the political class for its role in the spread of Covid-19 as he announced a raft of new measures to contain the pandemic.

Addressing the nation yesterday from State House in Nairobi after a meeting with governors, Uhuru suspended all political gatherings and rallies for 60 days. Anyone wishing to hold such a meeting will now have to do so in town halls in observance of Covid-19 protocols, including limiting the attendees to one third seating capacity of the hall.

Political rallies

The president's directive comes amid heightened political activity in recent days that has seen top political players hold rallies and other gatherings as the debate on the Building Bridges Initiative(BBI) report gathers steam.

A number of the meetings have witnessed many attendees fail to observe social distancing as well as adhere to other containment measures such as wearing of masks.

Uhuru faulted leaders, including himself,  saying they have not been a good example to the public. He said just because the public has exhibited fatigue in keeping the containment measures did not mean leaders should also follow suit.

Yesterday Uhuru jolted the nation back to the reality of the pandemic that has so far claimed the lives of over 1,000 people in the country and infected over 58,000 others.

The president revised the 11 pm curfew to start from 10 pm to 4 am and will remain in place until January 3, next year.

As a result, hotels, restaurants, bars and eateries are to close at 9 pm as the Head of State made it clear that enforcement of the protocols will be doubled.

Nearly 10 million primary and secondary school learners will remain at home as school's reopening was pushed to January 2021.

The president, however, said schools will remain open for Standard Eight and Form Four, and the transition class of Grade Four.

The President in the address where he listed 13-point guidelines painted a grim picture of how the fatigue of Kenyans in adhering to the Covid-19 containment measures, reduced enforcement, and the not so good examples of leaders had driven the country into a second peak.

He noted that in just 38 days since the country reopened the economy, the country had recorded some 15,000 cases, Covid-19 hospital bed occupancy had shot to 140 per cent and close to 300 people had died.

The positivity rate which was at four per cent in September had shot to 16 per cent in October.

“We are now staring at a new wave of the pandemic and the question we must ask ourselves is; where did we as Kenyans go wrong and what could we have done differently?” posed the president, who also announced a "No mask, No service" public sensitisation campaign to encourage adherence to Covid-19 containment measures.

President Kenyatta said the stringent measures as earlier implemented saw a fall of new cases from 4,720 in the first week of July to 866 during the second week of September. The number, however, rose sharply to 6,402 by the last week of October.

Make sacrifices

“These figures suggest a correlation between stringent measures and a drop in infections. They suggest that in order to heal the country in the long run, we have to make some sacrifices in the short run,” he said.

It is in October where the country recorded over 1,000 cases in a day for the first time, culminating to the highest number of new cases recorded so far yesterday as 1,494 people tested positive.

This raises the total number of confirmed cases to 58,587 with 717,172 samples tested so far.

Just two days ago, Covid-19 death toll surpassed the 1,000 mark and is now at 1,051 after 12 more people were reported dead yesterday.

Directions governing religious gatherings will remain unchanged with any indoor gathering, other than for the purpose of a wedding or funeral, shall have no more than one-third of normal seating capacity.

The Ministry of Health guidelines will remain in force, with the Ministry of Interior directed to ensure strict enforcement.

Council of Governors chair Wycliffe Oparanya, in his presentation during the summit, had proposed curfew be revised to 9 pm from 11 pm, at least until the country attains less then five per cent positivity rate or the curve flattens.

He noted that counties were overwhelmed with more cases.

The Head of State, who spoke after the Sixth Extraordinary Session of the National and County Governments Coordinating Summit, said the public had suffered some kind of ‘Covid-19 fatigue’ and were no longer taking the measures on social distancing, wearing of masks and curfew hours seriously.

According to the new measures, if a county reports pockets of infections within its locality, then the national government will coordinate with the governor on how the restriction of movement will be imposed.

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