Tougher rules in Western region as Covid cases soar
George Kebaso @Morarak
The government has banned movement in and out of 13 counties in the Western Kenya belt and reviewed curfew to between 7pm and 4am due to the upsurge of Covid-19.
Devolved units have been posting over 60 per cent of the national case load for two weeks continuously with an average positivity rate of 21 percent against a national average of 9 per cent.
The strict measures were imposed in Busia, Vihiga, Kisii, Nyamira, Kakamega, Bungoma, Kericho, Bomet, Trans Nzoia, Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay and Migori.
Yesterday alone, the counties posted 435 positive cases out of 660 announced by Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe.
“The surge of infections in the aforementioned counties is further compounded by their proximity to the Republic of Uganda, which has similarly reported a surge of Covid-19 infections; and whereas, there is a heightened risk of cross-border infections from the neighbouring countries adding to our national case load,”Kagwe said after consulting with governors from the affected areas.
Siaya, Kisumu, Busia and Homa Bay recorded the highest number of positive cases at 123, 102, 68, and 49 respectively.
“In exercise of the authority vested on the Cabinet Secretary for Health by the Public Health Act, the continuing containment measures are hereby reviewed as follows: That the counties of Busia, Vihiga, Kisii, Nyamira, Kakamega, Kericho, Bomet, Bungoma, Trans Nzoia, Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay and Migori are individually and collectively declared as a Covid-19 hot spot zone,” he said in a statement to newsrooms last evening.
In a replica of the March 26 lockdown in Nairobi and four adjacent counties by President Uhuru Kenyatta, yesterday Kagwe strongly discouraged movement between the hot spot zones and the rest of the country except for essential and emergency services.
Worshipping of any nature in the zones was also affected with the Cabinet Secretary suspending all forms of physical/congressional worship - churches, mosques, temples and shrines - in these counties for a period of 30 days.
This is also meant to curb a spike in Coronavirus infections, which also requires that truck drivers crossing the Kenya-Uganda border to possess a legal certificate showing their Covid-19 status.
“All cross-border cargo drivers shall be required to possess a valid certificate indicating a negative Covid-19 test that was conducted no more than 48 hours before commencing their journey, and each cargo truck shall be limited to only two persons per vehicle,” he said in a day when the national positivity rate stood at 10.7 per cent and the country seeing six patients succumb to Corona.
In the new measures, all trading activities involving non-food and livestock markets were suspended for 30 days and all public gatherings and in-person meetings of whatever nature also being prohibited. These include house parties and sporting activities.
All funerals in the 13 counties shall be conducted within 72 hours of confirmation of death with night vigils and overnight processions prohibited. The number of the people attending a funeral was limited to a maximum of 50 persons.
“That the attendees, officiators, and facilitators of weddings, celebrations of marriage or traditional unions, ceremonies of rites of passage, and all other similar events or ceremonies are maintained at 30 persons in total until further notice,” Kagwe said.
“All employers, including the public and private sector, government offices, businesses and companies in the hot spot zones are advised to allow employees to work from home, with the exception of employees working in critical or essential services,” said Kagwe.
And in accordance with the Public Order No.3 of 2021, all hospitals within the counties are directed to limit the number of visitors for hospitalised patients to one visitor per patient per time until further notice.
The CS said the hours of the ongoing nationwide curfew shall continue to be observed in the rest of the country, from 10pm and 4am daily.