• Guidelines necessary for children in institutional care who are at a higher risk of cluster infections.
• Admissions halted except in emergencies. Spacing and protocols must be followed. No visitors.Virtual court hearings.
No more children will be admitted to any state institutions during the Covid-19 pandemic because the infection can easily spread in close quarters.
The Department of Children's Services announced the restrictions on Wednesday. Children in institutions are aged up to 17 years.
The institutions house both boys and girls in conflict with the law and in need of rehabilitation, care and protection.
In the event a child must be admitted, necessary consultations and precautions must be taken. They include a valid Covid-19-free certificate dated within 14 days.
Volunteer services within all the 30 institutions in the country have also been halted during the pandemic to counter the spread of the virus. No visitors are allowed, only authorised officers.
Principal secretary in the State department for Social Protection Nelson Marwa said on Wednesday the guidelines are necessary to protect children in institutions who are at higher risk of cluster infections.
Social distancing, hand washing, wearing of masks and other protocols must be followed. Spacing applies to seating arrangements in classes and in the dining area where shifts are encouraged. Beds also should be spaced as much as possible.
For the children in conflict with the law, virtual court proceedings have been encouraged with public transport discouraged.
“Children who are sick should stay in the institutions unless they urgently need medical care. They should also be separated from other children and separate bathrooms should be used,” the department says.
Minors with underlying health conditions and disabilities should not be exposed to ailing people or leave the institution except when necessary.
Guidelines were also issued by the government at the onset of the pandemic.
Children are to be released to their families whenever possible to minimise and control infections.
Since March, 1,405 children and teens below 19 years have tested positive, the Ministry of Health said on Monday.
At least 72 children under two years of age have been infected; seven of them died.
Paediatrician Prof Ruth Nduati said all children must be protected, although those older than one year have less severe infections.
(Edited by V. Graham)