Kisumu on alert as Uganda locked down

Tuesday, June 8th, 2021 00:00 |
Kisumu residents follow proceedings of the Madaraka Day celebrations at the new Jomo Kenyatta International Stadium on June 1. Photo/PD/FILE

Kisumu county has introduced new stringent measures to curb further spread of coronavirus amid fears of rising infections.

The measures that were yesterday outlined by the multi-agency committee co-chaired by Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o and County Commissioner Josephine Ouko included ban on physical religious gatherings, regular multi-agency surveillance in market places to enforce Covid-19 protocols and barring morgues from preserving bodies beyond 48 hours.

A statement by the committee indicated that worshipers should not physically attend normal services in a bid to keep the virus at bay.  

“Members of the public are hereby advised not to physically attend churches, temples, mosques and other worship places for their own safety,” the statement.

Measures came hours after neighbouring Uganda re-introduced a near total lockdown following rising infections, sending fears of a possible spillover effect.

Uganda President Yoweri Museveni ordered all higher learning institutions and schools closed for 42 days by Monday 8am.

In his address to the nation on Sunday night, Museveni said the move is meant to reduce further spread of Coronavirus.

The Kenya government, however, downplayed the situation in Uganda, urging citizens not to panic over the lockdown.

The Head of Public Health at the Ministry of Health, Dr Francis Kuria has urged Kenyans to keep calm. “We do not just react to any news and start reviewing our current operations as regards Covid-19, especially on movement restrictions. What is happening in Uganda does not affect us in any way for now,” he stated.

 He, however, warned Kenyans against dropping their guard, advising that they continue upholding the protocols.

In Kisumu, the county announced that funerals and cremation must be done the same day the bodies are removed from the morgues before 2pm with only 100 people allowed to attend. Further, there will be public awareness campaigns on the virus regulations mounted by public health officials targeting markets and schools.

Current operations

 The committee shall also conduct fresh crackdown on matatus and boda boda sector. Those found flouting the Covid-19 rules shall be arrested and prosecuted.

 In the measures, the county government also temporally closed its offices save for essential services until further notice beginning yesterday. Kisumu Yatch Club also declared a two-week closure of its premises over safety concerns. The facility’s management committee, in a public notice, announced that normal operations will resume on June 21.

A surge in Covid-19 infections has been reported in counties within Nyanza region in the recent past.  Kisumu, for instance, has been on the spotlight over a spike in Covid cases following the Madaraka Day celebrations, which was hosted in the lakeside city last week.

As at June 5, coronavirus cases stood at 5,739 out of cumulative tests conducted, with current positivity rate at 28.4 per cent representing the rising infections recorded in the past four weeks.  Health officials attributed the increasing infections to non-adherence to containment measures.

A surge in new infections drew concerns from health experts, who argued that the numbers could continue to surge in the coming days following the Madaraka Day fete that attracted huge crowds, where zero social distancing was witnessed.

Kisumu, Homa Bay, Siaya and Migori have all recently been among the leading counties within the lake region that have registered a surge from the daily Ministry of Health reports.

 Health officials raised concerns that communal infections were likely to increase, putting pressure on local health facilities.

Compiled by Noven Owiti, Henry Andanje and George Kebaso

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