President Kenyatta’s Coro FM Radio Interview Transcript

 STATUS Open Document
 INTERVIEWERS Peter Kamau, Gatonye Mbugua & Jeff Kuria
 INTERVIEW LOCATION State House, Nairobi
 TOPIC Government Interventions on COVID-19
 METHOD Free Translation
 INTERVIEW DATE Tuesday, April 7, 2020





Transcribers: Rose Njeri, Peter Karugu, Mark Gacece, Triza Wainaina & Peter Mungai (Coro FM)
Reviewer: Jane Mumbi, Coro FM
Editor:  Jonah Ngare, Editorial Department, KBC



{Begin Transcript}

Presenter: We are hearing of  how the Coronavirus has devastated other countries. Is there Coronavirus here and how widespread is it?

President: Corona virus is real and all of us Kenyans need to understand that we are in danger from the virus and that is why as government we are doing everything possible to protect our people and ensure that our country does not suffer from the spread of corona virus like it is happening in other countries. So I want to say you cannot see it, you cannot touch it and you cannot smell it but it is here with us.

Presenter:  Yesterday you announced measures preventing people from leaving or going to four counties where the disease was first reported. What measures has the government put in place to ensure that the virus does not spread to people living within those counties?

President: I want to say that this disease came from outside Kenya and it has spread to all countries of the world. And that is why the first thing we did after realizing it is spreading fast was to close our airspace to ensure that no one from outside Kenya can come into the country and infect our people. But we also had Kenyans who were living outside Kenya who needed to come back to the country and those are the people who are now quarantined. But some people came in unnoticed and that is why the virus is spreading all over the world and it is not clear how it all started.  That’s why after realizing that there are people from several parts of the country who have been confirmed to be positive, we said yesterday (Monday) that we don’t want them to continue spreading the disease from Nairobi to the elderly in rural areas. As you are aware those in real danger are the elderly. That is why I decided to restrict movement within those counties so that we can contain the disease. But we also don’t want a lockdown because we know most of our people live from hand to mouth so if we say we lock them in their houses,  they will have nothing to eat.  And to ensure that the disease does also not spread within ourselves we are advocating for social distancing. You guys have been here before, where we have been interacting freely but due to the prevailing circumstances today we have kept our distance. I don’t want to imagine that the disease cannot find its way to State House through interaction. That is why we are advocating for sanitizing and hand washing to prevent yourself from getting infected and by so doing you also protect your family, your loved ones and your neighbours. That is the only way to ensure we avoid more infections because if we don’t change our ways of lives we might find ourselves in situations like what is happening in Italy, China, America or even Britain where the  Prime Minister is in ICU. He was infected by people he knows and trusts who he thought cannot infect him. So fellow Kenyans, my prayer is we continue working and doing business but then head back to your house to avoid social interaction which can lead to infections.

President Kenyatta with journalists Peter Kamau, Gatonye Mbugua & Jeff Kuria. Photo/PSCU

Presenter: With the restriction of movement, people cannot move from Nairobi to other surrounding counties to avoid infections but they are still going on with their normal activities within the county, what measures have been put in place to prevent infections between such people?

President: First is to ensure social distancing of 1.5 metres. Don’t interact with somebody even if they are your friends because you don’t know their status. This does not mean that you dislike them, they remain your friends and you will still go back to normal interactions once we manage to eradicate the disease. Secondly, this virus can attach itself on any surface including chair and tables and that is why it is key to ensure that the environment you are in is clean and clear of the virus. Ensure you regularly wash your hands. Thirdly, like we have said, our factories have now started making masks and soon there will be enough of them. Cover your mouth and nose with those masks as you go on with your business. By so doing, you will remain safe from the virus. We must change our way of life, by going back home to our families and avoiding social places. The Government has also decided that those who are not able to pay bills for electricity and water will not be disconnected.

Presenter:  There is some report indicating that 68% of Kenyans fear a lockdown will be very painful to the country. Others are defying the government directive to keep social distance. Is lockdown an option?

President: Lockdown is an option and that is why I am personally appealing to Kenyans, telling them that whatever steps the Government is taking is not meant to suppress them. Going by what is happening in other countries, I will hate to go the lockdown way. And that is why it is important to follow directives given by the CS for Health and his ministry because if we don’t do that, the virus will continue spreading. We must continue respecting directives given by our experts to avoid situations like in other countries where lockdowns have been declared. Let’s work together to ensure that we defeat this deadly COVID-19 disease.

Presenter: Right now, many businesses are closed and there are vulnerable groups plus other Kenyans who cannot afford simple basic needs, what is the Government doing to cushion them?

President: Even before the businesses were closed, there were still people who were in dire need because hotels and restaurants were closed as tourists are not visiting. Others have even lost their jobs. I have been holding meetings with hoteliers and other stakeholders such as banks, mobile phone service providers and other private players which has led to renegotiated bank loans, tax reduction, cheaper money transfer etc. We are also appealing to employers to allow their employees take leave, but not to sack them. All these measures have been put in   place to make sure Kenyans do not continue suffering. I have added almost 10 billion shillings for the old and vulnerable and yesterday (Monday) I added an amount of 2 billion shillings from the corruption proceedings kitty that will assist those who live in slums. Let us do what we are asked to do by the experts so that this disease can be wiped out in the shortest time possible so that our lives can return to normalcy.

Presenter: Now that there is movement restriction to and from Nairobi, what will happen to business persons who reside outside Nairobi and who trade within Nairobi?

President: Those that are bringing in foodstuffs or those that come to obtain merchandise and other commodities from Nairobi are not restricted. We don’t want to close such activities. Also, there are measures to ensure that we do not restrict those with a legitimate reason to come to Nairobi or move out of Nairobi. What we do not want is mass movement. Secondly, we have criminals who are taking advantage of the situation to harm other Kenyan businesses during curfew hours and that’s why we are asking Kenyans to adhere to curfew guidelines so that our police officers can have adequate and undivided attention to ensure security during these hours.

Presenter: Your Excellency, there are those who are not very sure about our preparedness as a country in terms of equipping our doctors and medical facilities such as ICU beds and ventilators, what do you say about that?

President: As I have always said, there is no single country, even the developed ones like Spain, Italy, America and even Britain that are not complaining of inadequate medical facilities for treating their people. What about us? And that is exactly why I’m saying that the best way to contain the pandemic is for the people to listen and follow all the guidelines and measures put in place by the Ministry of Health. Failure to do so, we are going to find ourselves in a precarious situation that will overwhelm our hospitals and our doctors. Please, the disease is invisible. So, we must take care of ourselves so that we don’t find ourselves in such a helpless situation. It doesn’t matter who we are. We have a responsibility to look after ourselves and that’s why we have taken action against the Kilifi Deputy Governor, because as a leader he should have known better than spread the virus after travelling from Germany. And I’m also hoping the court finds him guilty and sentences him to at least 10 years behind bars for infecting people knowingly.

Presenter: What measures are in place to make sure our medical doctors are protected from contracting the virus? Is there a standoff between National and County governments on the issue of hiring of new doctors?

President: Both the National and County governments are equally important in the fight against Covid-19. It is the same reason that we have decided to share the available resources equitably. There is no standoff between the two levels of government. On the second question, we have reached out to our local textile industries that have started manufacturing protective gear for our doctors. And I’m certain the gear will be ready in two weeks time to be used to by our doctors and our security teams so that they can work in a protected environment.

Presenter: There are people working in Covid 19-prone fields such as police officers and doctors. Is there a way they can be put in one place so that they don’t infect others in case they themselves contract the virus in their line of duty?

President: The Government is in the process of making such arrangements to feed and accommodate such people. And again, for anyone who gets infected in their line of duty, it will be the responsibility of the Government to take care of them. I also urge the doctors not to be afraid when doing their jobs. And as the leader of the Government, I assure you of the Government’s full support.

Presenter: There are some church leaders requesting to be allowed to have fewer worshipers than normal during this period when the church is needed most for prayers.

President Kenyatta having a light moment with journalists. Photo/PSCU

President: I agree that the country needs more prayers because at the end, we put our trust in God. We are a prayerful nation and we are not restricting anyone from praying but at this time we cannot afford to have gatherings. Today (Tuesday),   Ndingi Mwana’a Nzeki is being buried and it will be attended by less than 50 people. This is a ceremony that would have attracted hundreds of people, but now he will have to be celebrated later once the disease is contained. So simply because we have closed churches doesn’t mean that Kenyans should not pray at home or wherever we are, and believe that our God is with us everywhere. Let’s continue praying for our country and be patient until this disease is over.

Presenter: The final question: There are patients who come to Nairobi for a doctor’s appointment. Will they be allowed to enter Nairobi?

President: The steps that we have taken are not meant to inconvenience Kenyans but to protect them. I have directed our police officers not to restrict anyone with a genuine reason to visit Nairobi from doing so, but instead assist them.

Presenter: Mr President, you have said that your government has effected cash transfer for the elderly. However, some elderly people are complaining they are yet to receive the previous transfer.

President:  A big number has received the money. I also accept as true that there are those who are yet to receive. We have started a programme that will help identify such people. I am in contact with some local authorities who are working to identify the beneficiaries and their response is that they are happy with what the government is doing, and that is my happiness.

{End of Transcript}




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