Missed targets force curfew extension for 30 more days

Tuesday, October 5th, 2021 00:00 |
Health CS Mutahi Kagwe (centre), his ICT counterpart Joe Mucheru (2nd right), Unesco Regional Director for Eastern Africa and representative to Kenya Prof Hubert Gijzen, Media Council of Kenya chairman Maina Muiruri and the council CEO David Omwoyo (right) during the launch of the Covid-19 online information portal for media professionals yesterday. Photo/PD/JOHN OCHIENG

The government has extended the Covid-19 national curfew for another 30 days,  dashing anticipation among Kenyans that it would be lifted.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said yesterday the country is yet to hit the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended positivity rate of five per cent for 14 days consecutive.

However, he expressed optimism that with over six million vaccine doses in the country, attaining 5.8 million target the government has committed by October 20, will be easy if people turn out for the vaccination in large numbers.

“We are on our way there because we have built sufficient capacity to ramp up the vaccinations,” he said when he officially launched the Media Council of Kenya (MCK) developed Covid-19 information portal in Nairobi.

The information portal is expected to address the challenges of Covid with regards to the dissemination of accurate information.

“This portal is timely as it will provide media professionals with a one-stop-shop on factual, verifiable, and credible information on the pandemic in Kenya,” Kagwe said emphasising that well utilised, the portal will help in addressing misinformation and lies that have been spread about the vaccines.

“As a result we hope to see the impact of the informational portal in regard to vaccine hesitancy that has seen Kenyans not turning out as expected for vaccination,” he added.

The country, he said has 6.5 million vaccine doses currently, but so far 3.9 million people have been vaccinated with a total of 2.9 million partially vaccinated, while only 929,499 are fully vaccinated explaining why the containment measures may be here to stay.

“The containment measures including the curfew hours of 10pm to 4am will remain there and this is because we are still above the WHO recommended figures as far as the positivity rate is concerned of two weeks period when you have got less than 5 per cent at a high testing level,” Kagwe said.

The country has missed two targets so far. First, the WHO recommended 10 percent vaccination threshold by the end of September and thereafter the government’s target following a revision of vaccine deployment plan where it intended to vaccinate 150,000 per week.

However, Kagwe pointed out that the country is now vaccinating over 80,000 people per day and that this was adequate to hit the goal of reaching 6 million people by end of October.

“It will be an easy target to achieve assuming that we continue the flow of vaccines uninterrupted. We have over a million doses of Pfizer that should be good enough for us to hit the target.”

The CS noted the 30 days extension is also sufficient to help vaccinate as many people during this period.

Kagwe said after vaccination is when the government can fully open the economy.

“We hope to do so during the period that we have announced. As we head for the Christmas holidays we need to ensure that as many people in this country have been vaccinated as possible,” he said.

The decision, he pointed out, was arrived at in consultation with the National Emergency Response Committee on Covid-19 and President Uhuru Kenyatta.

National Covid-19 vaccine deployment task force chairman, Dr Willis Akhwale advised Kenyans to take advantage of the availability of vaccines to get immunised if they want to go back to their normal lives.

He stated, it is the numbers of those vaccinated that will give government confidence to re-open economy.

“Let’s make a deal, get vaccinated and we will re-open the economy. If Kenyans want the curfew to be removed, let them be vaccinated,” he told People Daily.

However, ICT minister Joe Mucheru attributed vaccination hesitancy to misinformation in the media space around the vaccine.

“This is where the media’s role as the society’s watchdog and credible information source comes into play.

I call upon all stakeholders to assist the media in providing accurate information about the disease to address the above challenges,” he said lauding the development of the portal as one of the steps by the MCK to avail credible information to the public,” said Mucheru

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