Uhuru in dilemma over second wave of Covid infections

President faced with difficult choices of deciding whether to reimpose tougher restrictions.

In Summary
  • Uhuru asked Kenyans to take personal responsibility to stop the spread of the disease
  • Matatu owners and the clergy have also asked Kenyans to adhere to Ministry of Health protocols
President Uhuru Kenyatta speaks at the Health Sector Intergovernmental Forum on Universal Health Coverage in Mombasa County on October 31, 2020.
President Uhuru Kenyatta speaks at the Health Sector Intergovernmental Forum on Universal Health Coverage in Mombasa County on October 31, 2020.
Image: PSCU

A spike in Covid-19 cases has put President Uhuru Kenyatta in a dilemma on whether or not to reimpose movement restrictions to stem the spread of the disease.

The President indicated he is faced “with a very difficult time” of deciding what to do following a sharp increase in cases after he lifted tough restrictions in August.

“We are going through that very difficult time of saying, now, what do we do again? Do we close up? We shall be coming to that, not today, but soon,” he stated.

The world is experiencing a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic and several countries have already reintroduced even tougher restrictions.

Regions in Italy, France, Spain and Germany are introducing curfews and tougher social-distancing rules to avoid a return to full-blown lockdowns.

Back home, Uhuru said thoughts of reimposing restrictions would not have been there if people had observed Health ministry protocols.

“We would not have to if only people observed rules and cared for their fellow citizens. It is possible to keep Covid at bay and still live a normal life. I only wish that the issue of personal responsibility would be taken at heart,” he stated.

The President reiterated that people should take personal responsibility to stop the spread of the disease.

"If we all could keep Covid-19 at bay, we would reduce deaths and we would be able to continue to drive our economic agenda,” he said.

Uhuru spoke at All Saints Cathedral during a special Sunday service to celebrate 50 years of the Anglican Church of Kenya’s existence as an independent province.

He was accompanied by Interior CS Fred Matiang’i, Water CS Cecily Kariuki, Kajiado Governor Joseph ole Lenku, among other leaders.

Church leadership, led by archbishop Jackson ole Sapit, urged the President to stop political rallies going on across the country saying they are a danger to the nation.

The Ministry of Health has attributed the rising numbers to the increased number of political activities during which little or no precautionary measures are observed.

The surge is expected to slow down activities related to the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), whose report was officially launched last Monday.

Political leaders supporting the report had indicated that they would be going to the grassroots to drum up support for the report, an initiative of the President and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

On the other hand, leaders opposed to the report said they would mobilise Kenyans to reject constitutional amendments.

On Sunday, Uhuru said people should have taken personal responsibility when he reopened the country.

“I am quite impressed today because we have a serious Covid-19 crisis in this country and it is growing but you have managed to put together a service like this while obeying all protocols issued by the Ministry of Health,” Uhuru told the church leadership.

He acknowledged that the emergence of the second wave, saying the surge in numbers had taken the government back to the drawing board.

Speaking separately, Matatu Owners Association (MOA) urged members and passengers to strictly adhere to Health ministry guidelines to stop the spread of the disease.

“I strongly agree with the President. If we adhere to the rules, we can keep the disease at bay while continuing with our normal life,” MOA chairperson Simon Kimutai told the Star.

He said matatu crews and passengers should always wear masks properly and sanitise regularly. “There might be a few cases where people are not adhering to the rules but we can be prefects of each other,” he added.

The Church and Clergy Association of Kenya (CCAK) urged Kenyans to adhere to containment measures to avert a reintroduction of containment measures.

CCAK national chairman Hudson Ndeda said Kenyans need to obey the rules to save lives and prevent the economy from collapsing. “The economy will be battered if restriction measures are reintroduced,” the bishop stated.

The President has convened the sixth extraordinary session of the National and County Governments Summit on Wednesday to discuss mitigating measures.

The session shall consider the evolution of the disease as well as the epidemiological models on how the virus may propagate in the country over the months of November and December.

The Session shall also review the efficacy of the containment measures in place, as well as the impact of the easing of the restrictions that were in place.

The second wave comes just weeks after Kenya lifted tough restrictions meant to limit Covid spread. In August, the airspace was opened for international passengers.

Other measures relaxed included reopening of bars and restaurants, which had remained closed since March, and allowing places of worship to resume in prayer facilities. A night curfew was also reduced from 9pm to 4am to 11am to 4am.

Authorities have warned the country was headed for tough times after reporting more than 600 new cases and more deaths. Some experts say it might be challenging to reimpose restrictions.

On Thursday, the Ministry of Health issued the strongest warning yet on a possible second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, after 68 people died in a week.

Health CS Mutahi Kagwe said the high death toll and infection were worrying. He urged Kenyans to strictly adhere to public health regulations.

Kagwe said the current infection rate had shot up from an average of 4 per cent per week in the last few weeks to 15 per cent currently.

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