President Uhuru Kenyatta has finally broken his loud silence on the deadly coronavirus epidemic with the issuance of an executive order.
Mr Kenyatta has set up a 21-member task force and ordered the completion of an isolation centre at Mbagathi Hospital in Nairobi within seven days.
The President also wants the identification and preparation of isolation and treatment facilities in all Level Five and referral hospitals across the country to be concluded by March 15, 2020.
“Kenya is a major international transport hub, with 70 per cent of international passengers in transit, and there is a significant threat arising from the spread of the coronavirus to Kenya from countries that have new and ongoing outbreaks of the pneumatic disease,” the Head of State said in his Executive Order Number 2 of 2020.
Perhaps in an acknowledgement of public outrage over his government’s laxity in addressing the seriousness of the disease, Mr Kenyatta admitted that “there is demonstrable and compelling public interest in further upscaling Kenya’s level of preparedness and capacity to prevent, respond to and contain this emerging global threat.”
The National Emergency Response Committee will be chaired by the Health Cabinet Secretary, and will have CSs in charge of Defence, Transport, Foreign Affairs, and Information Communication as members.
The Council of Governors will be represented by its chair, Kakamega County boss Wycliffe Oparanya.
Principal Secretaries from the ministries of Interior, Health, Treasury, Foreign Affairs, Transport, Telecommunications, as well as directors-general of Medical Services, the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority and Kenya Airports Authority.
The Director of Immigration and Director, Medical Services at the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) are also members.
The President’s chief of staff and the government spokesperson will be represented in the team.
The committee will be tasked with coordinating Kenya’s response, enhancing surveillance at Kenya’s ports of entry, coordinating supply of testing kits and critical medical products including masks and protective gear.
They will also co-ordinate the preparation of national, county and private isolation and treatment facilities, as well as marshal local and international human resources.
More importantly, the team will formulate, enforce and review processes and requirements for entry into Kenya of any persons suspected to have travelled to a coronavirus infested area.
In the order, the President dissolved the Cabinet’s ad hoc committee on Health and Inter-Ministerial Technical Committee on Government Response to the coronavirus outbreak.