Governors call for border closures to combat Covid-19

Thursday, May 7th, 2020 00:00 |
Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya (left) and host Alfred Mutua of Machakos address the media after a consulataive meeting yesterday. They called for the closure of the country’s borders . Photo/PD/DAVID NDOLO

Mutuku Mwangangi

The Council of Governors (COG) has decried rising cases of coronavirus infections and warned that the country could be headed for a worse situation in July - August unless urgent action is taken.

The council at the same time recommended measures to mitigate the situation including a total shutdown of the country’s borders to curtail cross-border movement and more testing for the Covid-19.

In a joint-statement issued by four governors in Machakos, Council chairman Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega) asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to come up with a protocol to be used while dealing with neighbouring countries in the fight against the pandemic.

“We urge the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to come up with a protocol of dealing with neighbouring countries to allow limited access of people if at all in order to curb the spread of the Coronavirus disease, “said Oparanya who was flanked by governors Alfred Mutua (Machakos), Mohamed Kuti (Isiolo) and Joseph Ole Lenku (Kajiado).

He said a risky situation was developing in the Kenya - Uganda border at Malava where truck drivers continued to interact with locals as they waited to be tested in the long queues.

Oparanya called for deployment of more medical personnel and testing kits in the border area to reduce congestion.

Similar sentiments were echoed by Lenku who said the border points required a complete shutdown.

Lenku pointed out that countries that had closed their borders had significantly cut the number of infections.

He, however, stressed that there was need to balance between fighting the virus and supporting livelihoods to avoid a situation where the ‘rich were afraid of coronavirus while the poor were afraid of hunger’ as various social media commentators have opined.

Lenku said there was need to cushion the poor against the effects of economic shutdown in order to reduce their likelihood of engaging in risky behaviour.

Kuti, who also sits in the National Emergency Response Committee said he had observed a worrying trend of increasing traffic on the roads with things returning to normal and warned that the country was ‘not yet out of the woods’.

“The number of infections are rising and in July/August we may see very high numbers,” said Kuti. 

He said there was another trend were citizens are avoiding going to hospital and immunisation numbers as well as the numbers of expectant mothers going for pre-natal services had gone down as people avoided possible infections from hospitals. 

He said hospitals were fumigating regularly and assured patients that there was no cause for fear.

Host governor Mutua said counties had improved health services significantly and reduced mortality rate since the advent of devolution. 

He warned that any schemes to take back the health docket to the National government would not succeed.

 as those who wanted to revert the same were not interested on service delivery but on selfish gains.

He said decisions on how to improve health services could not be made by people at Afya House who were not in touch with the reality on the ground.

The council said they had come up with a harmonised pay package for health workers for their special allowances, which amounted to Sh3 billion for a period of three months.

“What remains now is how we are going to implement this pay package. We will require a total of about 3 billion for all the counties for the months of May, June and July, “said Oparanya.

More on National