Mandera sealed off for three weeks over rising infections

Thursday, April 23rd, 2020 00:00 |
Interior CS Fred Matiang’i.
Interior CS Fred Matiang’i. Photo/PD
Interior CS Fred Matiang’i.

Reuben Mwambingu @reubenmwambingu

The government yesterday sealed off Mandera county for the next 21 days after it emerged the region could turn into an epicentre of the coronavirus, whose infections yesterday surged past the 300 mark nationally.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i banned movement into and out of the county both by air and road as part of the measures to avert the transfer of infections from the area after eight cases were reported.

Yesterday, Matiang’i said the decision to seal off Mandera was arrived at a special session of the National Security Advisory Committee which established there was escalation of community-based infections and further classification of county as an infected area.

“The President has directed the National Command Centre on the Coronavirus Pandemic to immediately review the enforcement of public health measures rolled out to stem the growing rate of infection in the counties of Mombasa, Kwale and Kilifi with a view to introducing more stringent measures to enhance the enforcement of the same. The results of this review will be announced in the next 48 hours,” he said.

Mandera joins Nairobi metropolitan area, Kilifi, Kwale, and Mombasa which have been described as the frontier counties after they recorded the highest number of infections.

This came even as it emerged that National Emergency Response Committee (Nerc) has been asked to review the cases of Nairobi, Mombasa and Kilifi either to issue other stringent measures or extend the curfew by few more days due to the increasing number of cases.

Kwale on the other hand was spared because the county has not reported any new case since the government announced cessation of movement in the three coastal counties.

There is likelihood that the government could announce stiffer measures with possibility of a lockdown for Nairobi and Mombasa going by the surging cases in the two counties even after they were put under cessation of movement.

On Tuesday Interior Principle Secretary Karanja Kibicho, told the People Daily that the government was considering imposing more stringent measures because of the spike in the number of cases.

He said the government was concerned about the high number of people blatantly breaking rules, which include wearing face masks while in public places and social distancing.

Travel restrictions

Of the seven new cases announced by Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe in the daily updates yesterday, six were from Mombasa and one from Nairobi.

This means that Mombasa has now recorded 20 cases within just three days after recording seven separate cases on Monday and Tuesday.

This brings its total infections to 67 while Nairobi is still leading with 207 out of the country’s 301.

And in his daily briefing Kagwe expressed alarm about the unfolding situation in Mandera, saying being a corner county sandwiched between two countries, Somalia and Ethiopia, which are also battling the pandemic, the county is at high risk of getting more cases.

“Today, we have looked at the unfolding situation in Mandera county. So far the county has eight cases, the latest being two cases of urban refugees.

As part of the containment measure, the government has directed restriction of movement into and out of Mandera,” he said.

The CS warned that the World Health Organisation (WHO) warning that cases in Africa could surge from just thousands to 10 million within three to six months could be a reality, especially going by multiplication of cases in neighbouring countries of Somalia and Tanzania within this past week alone.

“While this is a projection, it might just as well be the reality in the coming days. Consider that within this past week alone, we have seen significant changes of infections in our own neighbourhood where the Covid-19 cases in Somalia have multiplied nien-fold in a single week from 26 cases on April 13, to 237 by yesterday. 

In our neighbouring Tanzania the numbers have swollen sevenfold from 32 cases to 254 within the same period,” said Kagwe, adding: “These developments should concern us. They might translate into a frightening reality for the Horn of Africa”.

More on National