Why Uhuru may introduce lockdown tomorrow
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe yesterday hinted at a possible return of stricter measures to contain what he termed as a more vicious coronavirus variant and a third wave of the disease.
Speaking ahead of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s address to the nation tomorrow, Kagwe warned that the country was experiencing a spike in daily infections and deaths.
“I want to make it official that Kenya is in it its third wave. There was the first and the second wave that ran from November, but as the Ministry of Health had predicted, come March, we may begin to see a surge,” he said.
He warned that the current rate of infections and deaths could overrun the country’s healthcare system if unchecked.
“The President will be speaking to us on Friday and by that time, we will have agreed with our scientists and other experts on the measures that we must take,” he said.
Kagwe addressed a joint press conference with governors, led by Council of Governors chair Martin Wambora on a day the country registered 713 new cases and 12 deaths, the highest since last year.
“Today, we report the highest number since last year. 713 people have contracted the virus in the last 24 hours. The positivity rate is 14 per cent, the highest since the last phase,” said the CS.
The CS said 89 patients were admitted to ICU compared to 20 in January while 28 were on supplementary oxygen.
“As of yesterday, the virus had claimed 1,898 people since the first case was reported in the country,” he said.
The figures are surging at a time the country is rolling a vaccination programme targeting 15 million people in three phases.
Kagwe said the National Emergency Response Committee (NERM) will advise the President on what action to take to protect Kenyans. He warned that the ongoing conduct, including holding of political rallies, weddings, funerals and other life-risking behaviour would visit catastrophic consequences on the country.
The governors asked the national government to revisit the protocols saying the situation calls for stringent measures.
“The Council of Governors together with the Ministry of Health will relook at the existing protocols with a view to containing the current wave. The council in consultation with MoH is urging the President to halt all political gatherings for the next 30 days,” said Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o, who is the Health committee chairman.
Among the measures put in place when the disease first hit the country in March last year included a dusk to dawn curfew, ban of travel to and from Nairobi, Mombasa, Kilifi, Kwale and Mandera counties and a ban on night travel.
Others were the closure of all learning institutions, churches, hotels and bars, a ban on public gatherings and a restriction on the number of people attending funerals.
As the number of infections fell, the President lifted or relaxed some of the measures, including reduction of the curfew period from dusk to dawn to 10pm to 4am.
He also opened the four counties and reopened learning institutions. Health Acting Director General Dr Patrick Amoth said they had talked to the CS on what advice to give the President ahead of tomorrow’s address.
“I do not want to pre-empt what the President will say but we have already talked to the minister on what advice to give the Head of State,”he said.