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Flights suspended, bars closed in war against coronavirus

Monday March 23 2020

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As Covid-19 cases reached 15, the government on Sunday instituted new measures to curb spread of the virus.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said all international flights will be suspended from Wednesday, with the exception of cargo flights whose crew must observe strict guidelines.

“Those coming into the country between now and Wednesday will undergo mandatory quarantine at a government-designated facility at their own expense,” he said.

The CS added that countries wishing to evacuate their nationals should also make the necessary plans by Wednesday. Kenyans who will not have travelled back home by then have been advised to observe the guidelines.


The government further unveiled countrywide restrictions following eight new confirmed cases, saying those who fail to comply will be charged.
“Whereas we had allowed Kenyans and foreigners with valid residence permits to come in to the country, we have observed that there are those who are not observing the self-quarantine protocol.”


“Consequently, those coming before Wednesday will undergo mandatory quarantine at their own expense in a government facility. Persons who violate the self-quarantine requirement will be forcefully quarantined for 14 days at their cost, and thereafter arrested and charged under the Public Health Act,” said Mr Kagwe.

A senior leader in Kilifi will be charged in court for failure to comply with the self-quarantine requirement.

Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho said that weddings, funerals and other social gatherings are restricted to immediate family members only.


“The national government administration officers are directed to ensure that there will be no gatherings in churches and mosques. If the order is defied, arrests should be made. Funerals should be attended by people not exceeding 15,” he said.

The Inspector-General of Police, Hillary Mutyambai, also emphasised the need for self-quarantine.

To secure the social distance rule, the CS said bars will remain shut until further notice while restaurants are to remain open but only for purposes of facilitating takeaway services.
Out of the eight new cases, five are Kenyans, two are French and one Mexican. They are all imported cases from Europe and America who came in through the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport between March 4-17.

They are aged between 20 and 67 and are currently in isolation wards. Mr Kagwe said they are tracing 363 people who had come into contact with the eight.

While most of the confirmed cases are in stable condition, a French national in Malindi is said to be seriously ill and will be airlifted to Nairobi for further treatment. Explore the coronavirus tracker
The new measures come hours after the CS warned officers against releasing information relating to the virus to the media without clearance from his office.


Mr Kagwe said information released to the public must be done efficiently to boost efforts to fight the pandemic.

“Any communication that pertains to policy or emergencies should not be made without clearance from this office,” he said in a memo to senior officials.
The World Health Organisation Regional Director, Matshidiso Moeti, said Africa is now experiencing local transmission and urged governments to prevent the situation from getting worse.

“The rapid evolution of Covid-19 in Africa is deeply worrisome and a clear signal for action. But we can still change the course of this pandemic. Governments must draw on all of their resources and capabilities and strengthen their response,” said Dr Moeti.

“Africa can learn from the experiences of other countries which have seen a sharp decline in Covid-19 cases through rapidly scaling up testing, isolating cases and meticulously tracking contacts,” he added.