President Uhuru, governors to review Corona status

Tuesday, July 21st, 2020 00:00 |
Governor during a previous meeting with the President at State House. Photo/PD/FILE

Hillary Mageka and Alvin Mwangi

Alarmed by the recent surge in the number of Covid-19 infections across the country, President Uhuru Kenyatta has called a special meeting to assess the situation with speculation rife that the government may impose new, tougher containment measures.

A statement from State House yesterday said the meeting, dubbed the Fifth Extraordinary Session of the National and County Governments Co-ordinating Summit, will assess the state of the pandemic with 44 of the 47 counties having reported at least a case of the virus infection.

The move comes in the wake of a surge in the number of infections, with the latest data showing the country now has 13,771 cases after 418 new infections were reported yesterday. 

The country also recorded four more deaths from Covid-19, raising the total number of fatalities since the outbreak of the disease in mid March to 238.

The President’s meeting will be held on Friday, according to the communication from State House Spokesperson Kanze Dena-Mararo. 

“The session has been convened following a surge of Covid-19 infections across our nation; with the disease having now manifested in 44 of our 47 counties,” she said.

According to Dena, the session shall be a status conference to assess counties’ preparedness to handle the virus within the wider national response to the pandemic. It will also evaluate the country’s overall response and capacity.

In addition to reviewing the efficacy of the containment measures, the meeting will also analyse the impact of the phased easing of restrictions and consider evolution of the disease and medical models on how Covid-19 may spread in the coming two months.

Best weapon

“His Excellency calls on all Kenyans to continue applying the simple but yet most effective individual and collective measures that are our nation’s best weapon against coronavirus,” Dena said.

Uhuru urged Kenyans to continue wearing facemasks while in public spaces and observe social distancing to safeguard individual and collective health and safety.

Apart from spreading to 44 counties, the surge in the number of new infections has adversely affected operations in national government departments and agencies after hundreds of employees tested positive.

Hardest hit include the National Treasury, the Ministry of ICT and the Public Service Commission (PSC) where several members of staff tested positive, forcing the two ministries to scale down services and embark on mass testing of its employees.

The virus has also struck at the President’s office at Harambee House where a senior official has been forced into self quarantine for several weeks after testing positive for the disease. 

Meanwhile, it is back to business as usual for many Public Service Vehicles in Nairobi as most are flagrantly contravening Covid-19 protocols on social distancing, despite the spike in the number of people infected by the disease.

A spot-check by People Daily established that matatus plying various routes such as Jogoo, Kawangware, Kangundo and Waiyaki Way have started overloading their vehicles thus compromising on the social distancing protocol that is a prerequisite to curb the spread of the virus.

Some operators are nolonger providing sanitisers or requiring passengers to wear masks.

According to commuters, some of the operators are overloading with wanton abandon and are always rude when questioned on the malpractice.

“The rules have literally been thrown to the window and whenever we raise a finger the operators use vulgar language on us,” complained Abigail Nyambura, a commuter on Jogoo Road.

According to Nyambura, operators normally carry the required number at the terminus but after just leaving the stage, they start carrying excess.

“Sometimes it is even hard for us to complain. When one does so, they yell at the passengers,” she said.

Dennis Mwangi, a tout working with Forward Travellers Sacco said most of PSVs carrying excess passengers have been doing so as a way of trying to get that extra coin to service the vehicles. 

“Most of us have loans to pay and sometimes the few number of passengers we carry makes it impossible for us to make an extra coin  that we can save up to pay loans,” he said.

Mwangi said that they bribe police to allow them to operate without being arrested.

However, from the spot check, People Daily also learnt that there vehicles which have been following the rules and are carrying the required amount of passengers.

In particular, the Obamana Sacco, which plies along Kangundo Road.

“We don’t compromise at all. As a Sacco we decided to carry the required passengers. After all, we need people and they die due to congestion we will loose our customers,” said Mark Ochieng an operator working with Obamana Sacco.

Efforts to get a comment from Traffic Commandant failed to bear fruits but a senior officer attached at Police Headquarters told People Daily said they are aware of some police officers asking for bribes and they will soon take a serious action against them.

“Our intelligence teams are on the ground and we know the notorious routes. Soon we will pounce on them,” he said.

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