Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe has invoked the public health act to review Covid-19 containment measures in 13 counties of Western, Nyanza and Rift Valley which have been declared as new hotspots.
In a statement, on Thursday, the CS has extended curfew hours in Busia, Vihiga, Kisii, Nyamira, Kakamega, Bungoma, Kericho, Bomet, Trans Nzoia, Kisumu, Siaya, Homa-Bay and Migori counties which have recorded soaring infections in the last two weeks.
Curfew hours within the listed red zones will start at 7 pm instead of (10 pm) to 4 am effective Friday, June 18th to curb the rising cases.
All forms of physical/congressional worship, public gatherings and in-person meetings of whatever nature are prohibited within the hotspot zones, including house parties and sporting activities.
Funerals and interment ceremonies shall be conducted within 72 hours of confirmation of death while night vigils and overnight processions prior to funerals are prohibited until further notice.
Kagwe said the measures have been escalated following consultations with the Council of Governors and with the concurrence of the National Emergency Response Committee on Covid-19.
The counties have recorded an alarming surge in Covid-19 cases which constitute 60pc of the national caseload and an average positivity rate of 21pc against a national average of 9pc.
Movement in the high-risk zones has been discouraged as the health ministry warns of heightened risk of cross-border infections from neighbouring Uganda which is battling a deadly second wave that has prompted the nation to impose a lockdown and close schools.
Up to 69 per cent of the 15,248 new Covid-19 cases detected in Uganda have reported in the last 10 days.
While imposing the new restrictions, Kagwe admitted that the surge of infections in the aforementioned counties has been compounded by their proximity to Uganda.
“Except for essential and emergency services, movement between the hotspot Zone and the rest of the country is strongly discouraged; All cross-border cargo drivers shall be required to possess a valid certificate indicating a negative COVID-19 test that was conducted no more than 48 hours before commencing their journey, and each cargo truck shall be limited to only 2 persons per vehicle,” said Kagwe.
Issuing the new directives, the CS said “ NOW, THEREFORE, in order to break the cycle of infections in the affected areas, and following consultations with the Council of Governors, and with the concurrence of the National Emergency Response Committee on Covid-19; in exercise of the authority vested on the Cabinet Secretary for Health by the Public Health Act, the continuing containment measures are hereby reviewed as follows:
- That the curfew within the hotspot zone shall be observed between 07:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m. daily;
- Except for essential and emergency services, movement between the hotspot Zone and the rest of the country is strongly discouraged;
- All cross-border cargo drivers shall be required to possess a valid certificate indicating a negative COVID-19 test that was conducted no more than 48 hours before commencing their journey, and each cargo truck shall be limited to only 2 persons per vehicle;
- That, weekly non-food and livestock markets are hereby suspended in the Hotspot Zone for a period of 30 days;
- All public gatherings and in-person meetings of whatever nature are prohibited within the Hotspot Zone, including house parties and sporting activities;
- All funerals and interment ceremonies within the Hotspot Zone shall be conducted within 72 hours of confirmation of death;
- Night Vigils and overnight processions prior to funerals are prohibited within the Hotspot Zone until further notice;
- That the attendees for funerals within the Hotspot Zone are capped to a maximum of 50 persons until further notice;
- That the attendees, officiators, and facilitators of weddings, celebrations of marriage or traditional unions, ceremonies of rites of passage, and all other similar events or ceremonies is maintained at 30 persons in total until further notice;
- All forms of physical/congressional worship (churches, mosques, temples and shrines) in the hotspot counties are suspended for a period of 30 days;
- All employers including the public and private sector, government offices, businesses and companies in the Hotspot Zone are advised to allow employees to work from home, with the exception of employees working in critical or essential services;
- In accordance with the Public Order No.3 of 2021, all hospitals within the Hotspot Zone are directed to limit the number of visitors for hospitalized patients to one (1) visitor per patient per time until further notice; and
- For the avoidance of doubt, the hours of the ongoing nationwide curfew shall continue to be observed in the rest of the country, from 10:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m. daily.
Ministry of health experts have warned of a possible fourth wave of Covid-19 after the more deadly Indian Variant was detected in western and Nyanza counties.
Public and private hospitals in Kisumu have overstretched their capacities as more cases of Covid-19 emerge.
Kagwe asked Kenyans to be vigilant. “All Kenyans, are reminded not to let their guard down, and they should avoid unnecessary movements and gatherings, employ physical distancing, observe proper hand hygiene, and observe the proper and consistent use of facemasks”.