International flights ban extended by one month

Monday, April 6th, 2020 00:00 |
Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia. Photo/PD/GERALD ITHANA

Kenya yesterday extended the ban on international flights by 30 days as the Ministry of Health announced that coronavirus cases had reached 142.

Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia also issued far reaching directives aimed at the public transport with a stern warning that those defying the rules will face the full force of the law.

Macharia said the ban on international flights would, however, not include cargo flights since most of them were bringing in medical equipment. Also exempted are flights coming in to evacuate foreign nationals. The two weeks international flights ban ended yesterday.

The CS, however, cautioned countries coming to evacuate their nationals that they would have to notify Kenyan authorities at least 72 hours in advance. The flights must also not have any passengers while fling in.

“It will not be a walk in the park, they must give us a least 72 hours to plan for the incoming flights. Failure to do so will only complicate matters,” Macharia said during the daily briefing on the coronavirus pandemic.

On the public transport sector, Macharia warned matatu saccos whose vehicles will be found flouting the rules that their licences will be withdrawn, drivers charged and the vehicles impounded.

Boda boda operators will also face similar measures, he said.

Wear masks

“Whoever is found flouting the rules will have themselves to blame. We are not taking chances here and will not allow a few elements to derail our efforts,” Macharia warned, adding that there will be no exemptions.

Following the directive by the government last week, all matatu drivers and conductors will be required to wear masks and also demand that their passengers to do the same.

Further, boda boda riders will carry one passenger at a time and both must wear masks.

And figures released yesterday by Health Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Mercy Mwangangi, showed that the quarantine concept had paid off with over 45 per cent of the cases in the country coming from the quarantine centres.

Yesterday 16 cases of the 538 tested in the last 24 hours, were confirmed positive bringing the total to 142.

Bury kin

Out of the 16, nine were from the quarantine facilities while seven were from people who had contact with the confirmed cases. Eleven patients had travel history while five were infected locally.

The government has also directed families of patients who succumb to coronavirus to bury their kin within 24 hours and restrict mourners to 15.

“Such burials will only be attended by close family members only and Kenyans have been urged to adhere to this directive,” Mwangangi said.

Kenya has so far lost four people to coronavirus, including Captain Daudi Kibati, the Kenya Airways pilot who contracted the virus on the airline’s last flight from New York that evacuated stranded Kenyans and foreigners two weeks ago. Kibati was buried at his Kitui home on Saturday.

Others who succumbed to the virus include a six-year-old boy who was admitted to the Kenyatta National Hospital last week.

All those who have died are said to have had pre-existing conditions.

The government has also warned private hospitals who are overcharging patients, with Mwangangi terming it unacceptable and immoral.

“The Medical council has been directed to take up the matter,” Mwangangi said.

Globally, more than 60,000 people have died of Covid-19, with infections now being more than 1.2 million people.

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