Kenya slaps five counties on lockdown bracing for third wave of Covid-19
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday announced a Covid-19 lockdown for five counties, including Nairobi, as the country is hit by a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
"Kenya is squarely in the grip of a third wave of this pandemic," said Kenyatta, during an address at State House. "The stress the pandemic is placing on our healthcare system is unparalleled," he added.
The Kenyan president said Nairobi county accounts for 60% of the country’s entire reported cases, and the rate of those testing positive for Covid-19 has jumped from 2% in January to 19% as of Monday.
He highlighted how the rate of infection in Kenya has increased tenfold and reached the highest yet in Kenya since the start of the pandemic.
Movement in and out of Nairobi, Kiambu, Machakos, Kajiado and Nakuru would be restricted from Saturday and these counties would be slapped with a curfew from 8pm to 4am local time.
In-person classes at schools, as well as universities and colleges, would be stopped, except for those sitting exams or people at medical training facilities.
Sporting activities will be stopped and bars in the five counties would be shuttered. The sale of alcoholic beverages in restaurants would also be restricted.
Kenyatta described how hospital admissions in Kenyatta had increased by more than 52% in a little over two weeks, with some 950 Kenyans currently receiving intensive care treatment related to Covid-19 complications, saying how this “calls for urgent and drastic measures”.
A lockdown to halt the rising death rate and number of hospitalised was need to “avert a national health crisis”, according to the Kenyan leader.
Meetings or gatherings in the counties concerned by the measures would be prohibited, including cabinet meetings and sessions of parliament.
Kenyatta said the government had taken the decision based on medical advice and empirical evidence.
Health authorities have confirmed 128,178 cases of Covid-19, according to statistics from the health ministry on Friday.
The number of Covid-19 cases in the African continent topped 4 million earlier in March and the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned that healthcare systems were being “severely tested”, with many healthcare workers “stretched to the limit”.
South Africa has registered the highest number of cases, with some 1.5 million people confirmed as contracting Covid-19 and more than 52,000 deaths, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
Experts in South Africa have warned that the country is expected to be hit by a third wave of the pandemic as the country battles with a homegrown variant that is thought to be more deadly.
Nearly 16 million doses of coronavirus vaccine have been delivered to 44 African countries through the COVAX facility, and 7.7 million doses have been administered, as of Thursday, WHO said.
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