Dark Covid-19 cloud hangs over event
Madaraka Day celebrations in Kisumu are being held today under a dark cloud of surging Covid-19 infections in the lake side city and in the region.
The county has been on the Ministry of Health’s radar over an alarming rise in infections in recent weeks.
On Saturday, Kisumu accounted for almost a third of all the 382 positive cases in the country, a situation which drew the concern of health experts.
There are reports that the government may be considering imposing a partial lockdown on some counties in the Lake Basin region to contain the spread of the disease.
A National Emergency Response Committee on Coronavirus meeting on Saturday saw members divided on whether to impose a partial lockdown on Kisumu, Kakamega, Siaya, Migori, Busia, Nyamira, Kisii, Narok, Nandi, Kericho, Bomet and Vihiga counties.
Yesterday, Kisumu County Executive for Health Boaz Otieno told People Daily that the outbreak had escalated over the past ten days.
“Kisumu has become a major transmission zone of late. We have over 4,000 cases that have been confirmed as of the end of last week. In the last one week alone, 3,000 cases have been diagnosed,” Otieno said.
The national celebrations will be held at the newly constructed Jomo Kenyatta International Stadium at Mamboleo ASK grounds.
As one of the measures to contain the spread of the virus, the celebrations’ organisers announced the cancellation of several events that had been planned to mark the day.
Yesterday, Nyanza Regional Commissioner Magu Mutindika said the event will be held in strict compliance with the Ministry of Health Covid-19 containment measures. He reiterated that only 3,000 invited guests will be allowed in the stadium.
“The event reaffirms our nation’s self-determination as an independent entity through economic resilience even as we remain vigilant against the disease and protect the population,” he said.
He added: “Only a few invited people will have access to the celebrations venue to follow the proceedings live. The rest of the nation will follow the proceedings via television.”
Residents of the city will also not be allowed to follow the event from entertainment joints, he said.
The National Celebrations Committee cancelled initial arrangements to mount screens at strategic points for the public to watch the proceedings. Initially, screens were to be mounted at Kirembe Grounds, Moi Stadium and Molem Grounds.
The Kisumu county government and the Waterbus services, which operates boats on Lake Victoria, also canceled a plan to offer free boat rides for residents on Madaraka Day.
“After deliberation with MOH and the County Government over rising cases of Covid-19 in Kisumu, the Waterbus event is hereby postponed to a later date,” the Waterbus management said on Friday.
Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed also revealed on Wednesday that due to Covid-19 restrictions, the friendly match between Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards to officially open the new stadium would not take place.
“It will not be fair for the two teams to play their first match in the new stadium without fans from Kisumu County. This facility is meant for Kisumu residents and neighbouring counties,” she said.