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Dozens of worshippers in Kwale, Hola arrested and quarantined

Police officers in Kwale County have arrested dozens of worshippers for flouting government directives put in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The Muslims had gathered to conduct prayers.

The arrest follows a similar incident in Hola, where an Imam was detained for organising prayer congregation.

The  68 children and 94 adults were rounded up at Tawfiq Mosque in Kiteje Sub Location Friday evening as they prepared for prayers to mark the beginning of the holy month of Ramadhan.

Kwale County Commissioner Karuko Ngumo told The Standard all the worshipers were given forms to sign that required them to go for self-quarantine in a period for 14 days.

He said the public health officials and county Covid-19 monitoring team would be assessing their progress.

 "The suspects were congregating despite the government directive banning social gathering and enforcing social distancing. Our multi-agency security team moved swiftly to the said mosque. We are also sending a warning to all religious leaders to observe the guidelines issued by the ministry of health on Covid-19 control especially on public gatherings and social distancing," Ngumo said.

On Friday police went to a mosque in Tana River and ordered out worshipers who praying behind locked doors.

Led by Tana River Sub County Police Commander Kavulo Msanzu, the police officers stormed the mosque after receiving information from local residents that an Imam was leading Dhuhur (morning) prayers at Hola Secondary Manyatta.

They arrested the cleric who was later freed after interrogation.

"We were tipped off that an Imam was holding prayers with some worshipers and we thank him for that because the disease doesn't know which faith you are," said Msanzu, who also appealed to the leaders and media to help sensitise the community on dangers posed by the disease.

The government has banned all public gatherings including congregational prayers in churches, temples and mosques. Last week a Catholic Priest Father Ronald Wafula was arrested in Voi conducting mass with 12 followers and his fate is still unknown.

Since the emergence of Covid-19, multi-agency teams have cautioned all faiths to stay away from any gathering.

Tana River Police Commander Frederic Ochieng instructed all worshipers to do their prayers at home to prevent cases of coronavirus.

So far Tana River County has not recorded any case of the disease, a situation attributable to the lockdown of neighbouring counties.

The quarantine places such as Kenya Medical Training School and various secondary schools are currently having no people.

Meanwhile, four Kenyans who sneaked back into the country from Tanzania through Lungalunga border have been put under forced quarantine.

According to police, the suspects will stay in the quarantine for 14 days as health officials monitor their conditions to determine if they have contracted the deadly disease that has swept thousands globally.

Mr Ngumo said the suspects came into the country on diverse dates and officials were able to track them.

Tanzania has recorded a high number of victims who have contracted the coronavirus with 299 cases according to official records as per yesterday.

 Ten others have died with 48 recoveries in Tanzania.

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