As the coronavirus reported cases continue to increase in the country and the reality over the pandemic hits the grassroots, the business community in Chuka town is no longer adamant to directives by the government to curb the spread of the deadly disease.
A spot check by KNA in Chuka town has revealed that matatus, open air market traders, hotels and virtually all bar operators have heeded to the government directives announced by Health Cabinet Secretary (CS), Mutahi Kagwe, after 16 Covid-19 cases were confirmed in the country on Monday.
All entertainment joints were closed as per the government’s directive. Bars, including Canopy Club and Baituru Bar in Chuka town, were closed on Monday night at exactly 12.00 midnight with the operators disclosing that they are ready to suffer losses if that is what it takes to protect their customers and their families.
Even before the closure they had placed sanitizers, soaps and water at their entrances where the customers were supposed to wash their hands as a way of curbing the spread of the coronavirus scourge.
In the Ultra- Modern Chuka Open Air Market, the business men and women are very keen on their safety and that of their customers, and hence they have maintained a social distance of one meter and provided soap and clean water where they and their customers wash their hands before and after every transaction, especially after handling cash.
At the Chuka Automated Matatu terminus the operators are adhering to the government directive with 10 and 14 seater matatus restricting their number to eight to ensure the passengers maintain the requisite social distance.
The Nairobi bound Public Service Vehicles (PSV) are still charging the usual Sh. 500 but it was not easy to understand whether it was by choice or the heavy presence of traffic police officers on the ground.
Even before the directives from the Health CS, the Tharaka-Nithi fraternity had been proactive by taking several measures to safeguard the residents of the County.
On Friday last week, the Tharaka-Nithi County Commissioner (CC), Ms. Beverly Opwora banned prison visits and cautioned the general public against spreading fake news over the pandemic.
“Prison visits remain banned until further directions are received from the relevant authorities and I want to make it very clear that spreading fake news about Coronavirus as media practitioners or on social media is a serious criminal offence that can land one in jail,” the CC had cautioned.
Speaking during the inspection of the isolation ward created at the Chuka Level Four Hospital, Ms. Opwora said the spread of fake news about Covid -19 in the county will be treated as a criminal offence, adding that the two levels of government are working together to ensure that an isolation room and a trained nurse are availed in every prison.
“We are going to work together with the County Government to ensure that the prisoners get a medic to check on their health and set aside isolation room for anybody who is suspected to have the virus before they are taken to isolation wards, “said the Administrator.
She further banned any partying or ceremonies, especially weddings, adding that burials should not be conducted by more than 15 people of whom should be family members and few close friends and should not exceed one hour.
The CC disclosed that there will be regular patrols conducted by the area chiefs and the leaders of the “Nyumba Kumi” initiative who will be reporting to her to ensure that no children are around the market places.
During the event the County Governor, Muthomi Njuki directed the closure of all the bars until the covid-19 is contained.
Njuki said if there must be drinking, one should buy their drinks and carry home, saying in the case of those with wine and spirits shops nobody should be allowed to open a bottle at the premises and should anyone contravene the directive their operating license will be terminated immediately.
He further said there will be no open-air market days anymore until the nation is directed by the relevant authorities otherwise.
Njuki also emphasize that every person should have a sanitizer, especially in the shops and other business areas to avoid infecting others.
The Governor further ordered those with video dens to close their shops and miraa sellers to ensure they only sell ‘take away’, saying if there will be selling of the stimulant no one is supposed to chew it at the selling kiosks.
“If some churches have been closed down, how can bars be open? I’m warning, especially those with bars and restaurants not to think we are not watching them. Some licenses will be taken away as from this evening. Other counties have done the same so let’s stay at home for a while for our own safety,” said the Governor.
Njuki further disclosed that the County Health Volunteers (CHVs)will get proper trainings so that they can supplement government officers in educating people in the villages by providing door to door awareness campaigns besides availing a thermometer to check the temperature of every passenger who arrives from other places or counties.
Ever since officers from both the National and the County Governments led by the County Security Team Chairperson, Ms. Opwora, were in patrol making sure that the people do not exploit the citizens by hiking the prices of essential products in supermarkets and other shops in Chuka town.
By David Mutwiri/Sarafina Mutabari