Uhuru locks up worst hit City, Coast counties to stem Corona
by Irene Githinji @gitshee
President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday banned movement in and out of Nairobi and three other counties for the next 21 days as the government seeks to slow down the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.
The President, who declared that the country was at war, explained that the decision was reached after realising that the regions had become the epicentres of the deadly respiratory disease.
“A majority of the persons who have contracted the disease are residents of Nairobi metropolitan area and Kenyan coastal strip.
The few confirmed cases outside Nairobi and coastal strip can be traced to persons who have travelled from the nation’s capital or coastal strip,” he said.
Other three counties affected by the shutdown which took effect last night are Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale, all at the Coast.
The President defined Nairobi Metropolis area to cover Nairobi City County, part of Kiambu up to Chania River bridge, including Rironi, Ndenderu and Kiambu town.
The ban on movement also affects part of Machakos county up to Athi River including Katani, part of Kajiado including Kitengela, Kiserian, Ongata Rongai and Ngong Town.
Any passenger-carrying bicycles, scooters, motorcycles, vehicles, railway wagons and aircraft will not be allowed in and out of Nairobi Metropolitan area, Kwale, Kilifi and Mombasa.
The move was informed by the fact that 82 per cent of Kenya’s 158 confirmed coronavirus cases have been reported in the Nairobi Metropolitan area and 14 per cent in the three coastal counties.
“In the intervening period, movement in and out of the counties of Kilifi, Kwale and Mombasa will be restricted and supervised by the Kenya Police,” the President directed.
The four counties will still be subject to the nationwide dusk-to-dawn curfew.
State House Deputy Chief of Staff Nzioka Waita clarified that movement within the Nairobi metropolitan had not been prohibited.
“Movement within the Nairobi Metro Area is permitted subject to existing curfew,wearing of face masks and social distancing.
What is prohibited is movement into and out of the gazetted area,” he wrote on Twitter.
The cessation of movement within Nairobi Metropolitan within the initial containment period of 21 days took effect yesterday at 7pm while that of Kilifi, Mombasa and Kwale will be observed starting tomorrow.
Addressing the nation from State House, Nairobi, the President announced an additional 16 confirmed Covid-19 cases, raising the total number to 158.
He also disclosed the death toll has risen to six after two more patients succumbed to the disease.
Four people have fully recovered from the virus.
“I will go to any lawful length to respond to Covid-19. There is a choice we were asked to make as government and as a people: to carry on as normal or to treat this like the extraordinary emergency it is and to fundamentally change how we act.
Make no mistake, we are at war and we must be together if we must win this war,” the President said.
“This coronavirus is in all territories, it does not care about religion, colour of skin, tribe or size of your wallet.
Defeating it will require us to put aside our differences and stand together. The virus is unforgiving, and its rate of growth if not arrested is exponential.
Yet because it cannot be seen or smelt, it is an enemy that can easily convince you that life can continue as normal.”
He noted that governments the world over, including Kenya, are taking unprecedented steps to arrest the spread of the pandemic and to flatten the spread curve and much as different measures are being taken depending on every country’s unique circumstances, it is clear the pandemic is likely to continue spreading with lethal effects if drastic action is not taken.
Uhuru said dealing with the pandemic calls for acting like the fingers folded into a fist, reiterating the measures already undertaken to offer relief and increasing disposable income to Kenyans.
The government has already given 100 per cent tax relief for persons earning gross monthly salary of up to Sh24,000 and reduced top income tax rate (Pay-As-You-Earn) from 30 per cent to 25 per cent, among other measures.
He stressed the need to adhere to the already issued hygiene directives, which include wearing a mask when outside home, washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds several times a day and avoiding crowded places as well as observing social distancing.
Other measures to stop the spread of the disease include taking extra care not to expose those who are over 58 years and have chronic ailments.
Movement of food supplies and other cargo will continue as normal during the declared containment period through road, railway and air.
Any cargo-carrying vehicle or vessel will be charged to a single driver and designated assistants, all of whom will be designated as such in writing by the owner or operator of the vehicle or vessel.
Much as the enhanced measures are expected to complicate and inconvenience many Kenyans, the President said failing to do so will lead to even greater suffering.
And as effects of the health challenge set in, the President emphasised the need to tap into creativity of the people, even as he praised counties for waving local fees for trade in food items.
He encouraged traders and farmers in fresh produce to continue with their agricultural activities to ensure continued supply of farm produce.
“No one should be denied the ability to carry on with their legal trade within the boundaries of the protocols set out by the Ministry of Health.
Now more than ever before, I am pleased to see Kenyans stepping up for each other,” he said.
“I note with appreciation that some property owners have reduced monthly rent. I urge others to emulate these acts of financial sacrifice,” he added.