President sets stage for full reopening

President Uhuru Kenyatta makes his eleventh address to the nation on the coronavirus containment measures from State House, Nairobi yesterday. [PSCU, Standard]

President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday set the stage for reopening of the economy, expressing confidence that the Covid-19 pandemic is now manageable.

In his address yesterday, the 11th since the first case was reported in Kenya, the president directed the Health Cabinet Secretary and Council of Governors to constitute the National Reference Group, which will review the efficacy of the country’s response to the virus.

“The group should record lessons learnt and feed them back to the sector national and in counties,” he said.

The president said the group should also formulate strategies to identify weaknesses within the healthcare system in both levels of government and recommend how responses to emergency healthcare can be improved.

The group should expand their work to form a Kenya Covid Vaccine Consortium to bring together local and international stakeholders to prepare the country for trials.

President Kenyatta said the disease seems to be on a decline in Mombasa and Nairobi counties, which have been the hotspots. He however noted the disease is still a challenge in the rest of the counties, especially in rural areas.

Yesterday, as announced by the Head of State, 213 people tested positive, raising the case load to 33,016. This is as five more people died, with the death toll going up to 564. The number of recoveries was 241 bringing the total now to 19,296.

“Our experts have indicated that the levels of positivity rate countrywide have fallen from 13 per cent in June to eight per cent in August,” he said.

“This is very encouraging and it means if we keep our civic responsibility high, we have a chance to reach the five per cent positivity rate recommended by the World Health Organisation for total reopening.”

A five per cent positivity rate sustained for two weeks as per WHO shows the pandemic is on a decline.

“We note the good progress we have made so far in fighting this enemy, but this positive news is no license for us to drop guard and backslide from our path of responsibility,” said the president.

In that breath, he extended the nationwide 4am to 9pm curfew for 30 days. He also extended for 30 days closure of bars and nightclubs and allowed sale of alcohol in licensed hotels with residents.

Uhuru extended the closure of eateries and restaurants to 8pm from 7pm. He also relaxed rules on public gatherings, allowing up to 100 people from 15 in weddings and funerals as long as they follow the Ministry of Health protocols.

Between July 27 when the president addressed the country last, cases have increased by 15,041. The number of deaths also went up by 279 as the recoveries jumped by 11,463.

While the country’s positivity rate has reduced over this month, the country also recorded almost as high numbers as those registered between March 13, when the first case was announced, and July 27.

On July 27, the numbers stood at 285 deaths, 17,975 confirmed cases, and 7,833 recoveries.

Covid 19 Time Series