President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday, March 26 re-introduced tough COVID-19 rules, catching many Kenyans by surprise.
Among the rules announced, include the setting of curfew hours in Nairobi, Machakos, Kiambu, Kajiado and Nakuru counties at 8pm to 4am, beginning Saturday, March 27.
In the address that came only 14 days after his previous update on COVID-19 situation in Kenya, the Head of State said he wanted to avert the spiking of daily COVID-19 cases to between 2,500 and 3,000 in April 2021.
President Kenyatta said in the month of March, if Kenyans were tested for COVID-19 randomly, 20 out of 100 samples tested will return positive results.
The Head of State said Nairobi accounts for 60 per cent of these infections.
“Out of every ten [COVID-19] positive cases, six are from Nairobi,” he said, further illustrating: “This means, three out of five people in Nairobi are likely to be COVID-19 positive.”
President Kenyatta said that that grim reality “calls for urgent and drastic measures”.
The Head of State further painted a picture of why he resorted to take the “drastic measures”.
“Between January and February, 2021 three people were dying daily from COVID-19. In March alone, seven people have been dying daily,” said the President.
Uhuru further revealed that admission to hospitals have increased “steeply” over the last one month.
“Between my last address to Kenyans on March 12 and today (March 26), 630 Kenyans have been admitted to hospitals with COVID-19,” he said.
“Before my March12, 2021 address, there were 4,990 Kenyans admitted to hospitals. In less than 13 days, since my last address on March 12, the admission rate has increased by 52 per cent.
“In January 2021, 20 Kenyans were in intensive care unit wards. In February, the number rose by nearly 30. In March, the ICU admissions shot up to 930,” said President Kenyatta.
Describing Kenya’s positivity rate in March as “the highest”, the death rate as “devastating” and the straining of health systems as “unparalleled”, the Head of State said “worse was yet to come”.
“This third [COVID-19] wave is expected to peak in 30 days. That means, soon we will be reporting 2,500 to 3,000 cases daily. This peak can only flatten 60 days from March,” said the Head of State.
The President said five counties namely Nairobi, Kiambu, Kajiado, Machakos and Nakuru accounted for 70 per cent of Kenya’s slightly over 126,000 COVID-19 infections.
President Kenyatta referred to these counties as “disease-infected”.
To curb further spread of COVID-19 in Kenya, the President, consequently, ordered that movement in and out of the five mentioned counties be curbed.
However, the five counties -- Nairobi, Kiambu, Machakos, Nakuru and Kajiado -- have been listed as a zoned area, meaning a Nairobi resident can move into and out of the other four counties, and vice versa.
Curfew hours in these five counties were reviewed from the original 10pm-4am to 8pm-4am, effective Saturday, March 27. In other parts of Kenya, however, the curfew hours remain to be 10pm to 4am.
This order lasts indefinitely, the president said.
The President also ordered a stop to all in-person Cabinet meetings until further notice.
President Kenyatta also directed that in-person Parliament sessions and County Assembly meetings in the five “disease-infected” counties be suspended until further notice.
On international travel, the Head of State directed that all travellers jetting into Kenya must have a COVID-19 certificate taken 96 hours before arrival date, and the holder must be COVID-19 negative.
President Kenyatta also banned in-person worship sessions in Nakuru, Kiambu, Nairobi, Machakos and Kajiado counties until further notice.
In-person worship will, however, continue in the other 42 Kenyan counties, though with a third capacity of the worship venue.
The President announced that he had suspended face-to-face learning in all universities, colleges and vocational training institutions in Kenya, except for Final Year students sitting their final tests. The suspension is indefinite.
President Kenyatta, in the new measures, also suspended the operation of bars in Nairobi, Nakuru, Kiambu, Machakos and Kajiado counties. The Head of State also suspended the sale of alcohol in restaurants in the five counties.
“Restaurants in the five counties shall provide take-away services only,” said the President.
Restaurant operation practice in other counties remains unchanged, directed the Head of State.
President Kenyatta banned all sporting activities in Kenya until further notice.
On family visitation to kinsmen admitted to hospitals, the President ordered that each patient will be visited by a maximum of two people daily.
On social meetings, the Head of State directed that each gathering will have a maximum of 15 people.
Kenyans attending weddings, have been capped to a maximum number of 30.
The President also announced that public transport vehicles limit the number of passengers to 60 per cent of the vessel.
President Kenyatta further directed that the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Interior should review issuance of curfew and exemption cards to holders because “some people were abusing the privilege accorded to them”.
The Head of State urged public service senior officials to allow public servants to work from home.
On funeral arrangements, the President said interment should be done within 72 hours from day of death.
The President also directed Judiciary, law enforcement officers, remand facilities to take immediate action to eliminate non-essential physical contact.