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Coronavirus fears: Mombasa closes nightclubs for 30 days

Saturday March 14 2020

Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho speaks on coronavirus

Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho (centre) and County Commissioner Gilbert Kitiyo (second right) during a press conference on measures taken to help prevent a coronavirus outbreak in the county, March 14, 2020. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NATION MEDIA GROUP  

WINNIE ATIENO
By WINNIE ATIENO
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Mombasa County has ordered all nightclubs closed for the next 30 days as a measure to prevent spread of the deadly coronavirus.

Governor Hassan Joho and County Commissioner Gilbert Kitiyo issued the directive on Saturday, a day after Kenya confirmed its first case of the Covid-19 disease.

The tourist hub is volatile due to its points of entry through the port of Mombasa and Moi International Airport. 

In a press briefing at his office, Governor Joho and Mr Kitiyo said the order was with immediate effect.

They said bars and restaurants will operate up to 11pm.

“But minimise music and dancing. The [county health and security] committee has resolved that agencies put in place necessary measures at all points of entry and mobilise the human resource,” Mr Joho said.

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PUBLIC GATHERINGS

The committee further suspended all public gatherings, inter-school functions and meetings including those for religious purposes.

“We have suspended prison visits for the next 30 day. We have also minimised visits to the sick in hospitals to two immediate family members. We have suspended inter-agency, inter-institution and inter-religious meeting and gatherings. We will conduct door to door sensitisation on good hand hygiene,” the county chief said.

“We will further conduct aggressive hand washing campaigns in all markets and slums."

Religious institutions were ordered to provide worshippers with hand sanitisers, soap and water.  

The instructions are similar to those the government issued on Friday.

SUSPECTED CASE

Early in February, a suspected case of the virus was reported in the county and the person admitted to Coast General Hospital.

County Chief Health Officer Khadija Shikely said the 22-year-old student from Likoni Sub-county arrived from Southern Medical University in Guangzhou, China, on January 30.

The Health ministry later announced that the student tested negative for the virus.

OTHER MEASURES

Mombasa is among 14 counties the Health ministry placed on high alert for the virus for being points of entry or being located near points of entry.

The others are Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Kiambu, Uasin Gishu, Kajiado, Busia, Migori, Kilifi, Kakamega, Kajiado, Nakuru, Wajir and Garissa.

At the Standard Gauge Railway, members of the National Youth Service are providing passengers with sanitisers and using thermoguns to check travellers.

At the Likoni crossing, which is used by more than 300,000 people, the government will provide hand washing detergents and running water.

“This will be provided at both sides of the ferry with enforcement by inspectorate and NYS officers. TV screens and speakers will be stationed in the area for use in sensitising the public on preventive measures,” Mr Joho said.

CONFIRMED CASE

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe confirmed Kenya's first case on Friday, saying the patient is a 27 year-old Kenyan who travelled from the US via London.

He said that although the patient is stable and eating, she will not be released from Kenyatta National Hospital's Infectious Disease Unit until she is confirmed negative.

The government said it had traced all contacts the patient made since her arrival.

On Saturday, a team from the ministry led by Public Health Deputy Director, Dr Fidelis Lagho, fumigated the building in Ongata Rongai, Kajiado County, where the patient lives.

HIGH RISK

According to an AFP tally based on official sources, the overall death toll since the outbreak was first reported in Wuhan, China, on December 31, 2019 has jumped to more than 5,000, including nearly 1,500 in Europe, with total infections topping 140,000 internationally.

The risk in major cities remains high especially for those who use public transport.

Eateries, shopping malls, offices, banks, churches, mosques, schools and colleges are also high-risk areas. Many churches have announced changes in operations following the confirmed case.

By Friday afternoon, most of those in the county were operating normally and without observing any precautionary measures.