• It was a market day at Lwakhakha and both young, the old, men and women ran to the politician who was distributing sanitizers.
• Curious members of the public who had been attracted to the chopper refused to disperse causing police to forcefully disperse them.
Police in Sirisia, Bungoma county, on Tuesday used teargas to disperse a crowd that gathered at Lwakhakha to receive sanitizers from a local politician.
Sirisia politician Moses Nandalwe attracted a huge crowd from both Kenya and Uganda at the border town after landing in a chopper.
It was a market day at Lwakhakha and both young, the old, men and women ran to the politician who was distributing sanitizers.
But police from Lwakhakha border police station fired tear gas canisters in the air to disperse the surging crowd that was gathering at Lwakhakha football grounds.
The action was taken to minimise interactions between people to reduce the chances of contracting coronavirus.
Kenya had reported four confirmed cases of the outbreak as of Tuesday with Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe announcing on Wednesday that the number had risen to seven.
Curious members of the public who had been attracted to the chopper refused to disperse causing police to forcefully disperse them.
"We must disperse them to ensure we do not give chance to infections of coronavirus as a result of people gathering," a police officer said.
Bungoma West deputy county commissioner Daniel Kurui condemned the politician, saying he caused a commotion in the manner of his arrival at the dusty town.
He said police had to disperse the crowd because gatherings had been banned as part of measures to contain the spread of coronavirus.
"He needs to be arrested for defying government orders and doing public meetings against the presidential directive," Kurui said.
He said there was a team handling the screening of people at the border point with more than 4,000 people from both Uganda and Kenya screened as of Tuesday.
"We have efficient officers who have so far screened more than 4,000 people from both countries crossing the Lwakhakha border point," Kurui said.
Nandalwe condemned police for teargassing the crowd, saying the action was barbaric. He asked Lwakhakha traders and residents to cautiously follow all health guidelines to contain the spread of the disease.
He asked the pilot to fly the chopper, which was the centre of attraction, to the nearby Lwandanyi trading centre before he distributed more than 1,000 sanitizers to kiosks, shops and residents who included pupils and traders from Uganda.
"We thank Nandalwe for the kind gesture. We have not seen a single sanitizer donated by the government to show that they are serious in curbing the spread of coronavirus. We need more of this to be safe," Bishop Daniel Makecho of Hope Ministries in Lwakhakha said.
Nandalwe said most Sirisia residents cannot afford sanitizers, a key element in washing hands, and called on the government and other well-wishers to assist by donating more.
edited by peter obuya