Lockdown looms in lake basin as curfew extended

Monday, May 31st, 2021 00:00 |
Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o addresses a press conference at the Ministry of Health headquarters on the latest status of Covid-19 in his county. Photo/PD/Kenna Claude

Hillary Mageka and Roy Lumbe

The government is mulling imposing a partial lockdown in some counties in the Lake Basin region due to the rising cases of coronavirus, the People Daily has established.

Of particular concern to the government is the revelation that Kisumu has surpassed Nairobi as having the country’s highest number of confirmed Covid-19 infections in recent days. 

Fears over the rising cases of infections in the lakeside city were expressed as the government extended the nationwide curfew for another 60 days.

A National Emergency Response Committee (NERC) meeting on coronavirus on Saturday saw members sharply divided on whether to impose a partial lockdown on some of the counties that form the Lake Basin Economic Bloc.

They comprise Kisumu, Kakamega, Siaya, Migori, Busia, Nyamira, Kisii, Narok, Nandi, Kericho, Bomet and Vihiga. According to the Ministry of Health, Kisumu county has been recording a high number of Covid positive cases over the last one month.

Monitor closely

On Saturday, the lakeside city recorded almost a third of all 382 positive cases in the country.

Yesterday, Kisumu County Executive for Health Boaz Otieno told People Daily that the outbreak had escalated during the past 10 days.

“Kisumu has become a major transmission zone of late. We have over 4,000 cases that have been confirmed as at the end of last week. In the last one week alone, 3,000 cases have been diagnosed,” Otieno said.

Otieno blamed the increase in infections to easing of restrictions in the five counties of Nairobi, Kiambu, Machakos, Nakuru and Kajiado, that had been the epicentre of the spread a few months ago.

Dr Githinji Gitahi, who is a member of NERC says the government has been closely monitoring the unfolding situation  in the lake basin region.

Gitahi warned that Kenyans should prepare themselves for a fourth wave that could be more devastating around July and August.

“We are expecting a more devastating surge around the months of July and August.

But what is happening in Kisumu and surrounding areas is something to monitor closely,” said Gitahi who is Amref Health Africa Chief Executive Officer.

Concern by health experts over the rising cases of Covid-19 in Kisumu comes as the city is scheduled to host this year’s Madaraka Day celebrations tomorrow.

Health experts say a lockdown is basically meant to protect health systems in a particular area.

Three weeks ago, Kisumu became the first county in Kenya to record a case of the Indian Covid-19 variant. 

Commenting about tomorrow’s function, Kisumu Governor Prof Anyang’ Nyongó said there is nothing to worry about as all the health protocols will be strictly enforced.

“Only a limited number of about 3, 000 people will be allowed to enter the stadium that has a capacity of over 30,000.

The sitting will be strictly controlled and everyone entering will have to wear a mask and wash hands,” Nyongó told People Daily.

And yesterday, the government  extended the nationwide curfew by another 60 days.

In a Gazette Notice dated May 28, 2021, Interior Cabinet Secretary (CS) Fred Matiang’i said the curfew has been extended as a result of the serious threat posed to national security and public order by the spread of the pandemic.

The curfew, which currently runs between 10pm and 4am, will be in place until July 27.

“This order shall apply during the hours of darkness between ten o’clock in the evening and four o’clock in the morning with effect from the 28 of May, 2021, and shall remain in effect for a period of sixty days thereof,” read the gazette notice

In addition, the CS maintained that all restrictions to public gatherings, processions or movement either alone or as a group during the period of the curfew remain.

Only those permitted, in writing, by a police officer in charge of a county or a police officer in charge of a division or sub-county shall be given a pass.

The CS said the order shall not apply to those in categories classified as essential service providers.

On April 12, Matiang’i stated in a Gazette Notice that the nationwide curfew would run for 60 days, starting March 29.

Positivity rate

The curfew is part of the Covid-19 containment measures put in place by the government. The 60 days of uninterrupted curfew enforcement ended on Saturday, May 29, according to the notice.  

Yesterday, the country recorded 162 new Covid-19 cases from a sample of 3,452 tested. The country’s positivity rate stood at 4.7 per cent.

Nairobi had the highest number of cases at 55, followed by Busia with 32, Homa Bay 10, Kilifi 10, Mombasa 10, Kiambu eight, Kisii five and Meru four.

 Kisumu, Migori, Nakuru, Nyeri and Uasin Gishu each recorded three cases, Kitui Kwale, Machakos and Turkana each had two cases while Makueni, Tharaka Nithi, Trans Nzoia and Kajiado each recorded one case.

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