Covid-19: 3 Old Town escapees arrested, one found dead

Wednesday May 13 2020

Three of the five coronavirus-positive people who disappeared from Old Town Mombasa on Thursday have been arrested.

Coast Regional Commissioner John Elungata reported this on Friday, saying one had died and that another, from Mlango wa Papa, was still missing.

“All the three were found within Mombasa. The fifth person is yet to be found but we are closing in on him,” said Mr Elungata, who held a meeting with Old Town leaders at Swahili Pot Centre.

Sources told the Nation that the dead person was found within Mvita Constituency.

LOCKDOWN

The five residents left their homes together with their family members after the ancient town was put under lockdown for 15 days, alongside Eastleigh in Nairobi.

They were reportedly from Tijara, which is part of Old Town.

Governor Hassan Joho, while announcing their disappearance, regretted that they made the move despite knowing their status.

“What does that help? I have never heard of that in this world ... that you know you are sick and go into hiding [sic]. Who does that? What that means is that you are putting the other families you have run to at risk,” he said.

“What they are doing is deliberately spreading the disease. They will be dealt with,” he added.

NO COURT

However, Mr Elungata said the three would be taken to a quarantine centre, not court.

“We are not doing this [imposing the lockdown and other restrictions] to punish our people. Those found will be helped,” he said.

The commissioner urged Old Town elders to help educate the people on the Covid-19 pandemic.

He added, “Let us take advantage of the lockdown and reduce the spread. If we do that, the cessation of movement order will be lifted by the government. The aim is to defeat the pandemic.

OLD TOWN TRADE

On Friday, businesses in Old Town remained closed as the government enforced the directive on cessation of movement.

Among those affected were sellers of clothes, furniture, home appliances, cosmetics and antiques dealers, some of whom had renewed stock ahead of Ramadhan shopping.

Mustafa Ramadhan, chair of the Mombasa chapter of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said some businesses will be closed.

“During Ramadhan, most businesses in Old Town meet their overheads for the whole year. However, I see a situation where they will remain with a lot of unsold stocks, unpaid loans, rent and salaries,” he said.

Traditionally, businesses stayed open until midnight to accommodate all the people shopping for new clothes, furniture and fittings and jewellery.

“The businesses make more profit in these 15 days than in any six months combined. This year they had revised their projections and were working with the limited hours and numbers due to the curfew,” Mr Ramadhan said.

The pandemic, he said, has fundamentally changed how things are done and so businesses must adapt to methods including online sales.

He urged the government to consider mitigation measures to cushion the businesses to prevent loss of jobs.

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