Uhuru rules out lockdown as he puts quarantine escapees on notice
By Roselyne Obala
| April 22nd 2020
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) has indicated that he is reluctant to order a total lock-down even as he faults Kenyans for what he terms as ‘deliberately taking lightly the threat of Covid-19".
Talking to reporters today, the president said people who recently escaped quarantine by jumping over the walls of the Kenya Medical and teaching College (KMTC) will be traced, arrested and forced to complete the mandatory isolation period.
He was also categorical that he was not interested in getting into the public feud between China and the United States on the origin of Covid-19 but was more interested in working with nations that will help Kenya overcome the disease and the economic recovery.
Likewise, President Uhuru said his administration was dealing on a case-to-case basis to repatriate Kenyans stuck in the United Kingdom, South Sudan, Dubai, India, China and other nations despite the closure of airports.
The Head of State also disclosed that beginning this weekend, his administration would embark on targeted mass-testing of over 2,000 people a day in residential areas that have registered high numbers of infections and those in the frontline.
He admitted that the economy had suffered a major blow especially in sectors like tourism, agriculture, education and manufacturing among others which was why he announced the reduction of Value Added Tax from 16 per cent to 14 per cent.
Addressing a myriad of issues in the wake of the coronavirus effects, the Head of State expressed his fear that a lockdown would lead to a hunger crisis in the country.
Even as he ruled out the lockdown route, he regretted to note that Kenyans lacked seriousness regarding Covid-19 which has turned out to be his administration’s biggest test in the fight against the pandemic.
"We did not want to lock down the whole country, and we allowed those that can go to work to do so, but follow the guidelines laid out. We are still working to ensure that other services like farming and food production go on," he said.
“I am saddened that there are those who have declined to adhere to the guidelines including quarantine to enable us to defeat this virus in the shortest time possible and embark on the economy’s recovery.”
In reference to his Big Four Agenda projects on food security, President Kenyatta disclosed that he was opposed to the lockdown because he wanted to allow farmers to grow their crops and get inputs like fertiliser to cushion the country against hunger.
“We have not abandoned this agenda, we want to ensure the availability of the market chain and production. We will continue to buy maize and other food produce from farmers and allow them to farm maize, rice, cotton among others during this difficult time,” he said.
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