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COVID-19 Natembeya gives chiefs new roles in burial fetes

The Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya has directed chiefs and assistant chiefs to assume the role of masters of ceremonies during burial services to ensure that they are conducted in the shortest time possible.

            He ordered chiefs to limit the number of speakers and restrict mourners to 100 in burial ceremonies in their respective jurisdictions and ensure that no drinking and feasting accompanies such events.

            19,000 positive cases of Covid-19 have been reported in all the 14 counties within the region, with 612 deaths since the pandemic broke out in the country in March last year. He expressed concern that 777 cases had been reported in the past six days.

            The regional commissioner said all public and private health facilities in Rift Valley had run out of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds and ventilators with 28 persons being in ICUs and 504 others under home based care.

            “The Covid-19 positivity rate that we were all happy and very excited about when it dropped to 4 percent has now shot up to an incredible 14 percent in the past week. This is almost four times what it was before.

            This reality is reflected in increased diagnosis and hospitalization of patients in need of critical care.

            “Consequently, there is need for greater caution to reduce the rate of infections. If the current trend goes on without intervention, our healthcare systems will be under great pressure. The window of intervention is small and dependent on the timing,” warned the Regional Commissioner.

            While issuing the Covid-19 situation report at the Regional Offices in Nakuru, the administrator announced formation of a Multi-agency team to enforce containment measures aimed at slowing the spread of Covid-19.

            The Multi-agency enforcement unit will consist of the National Police Service, Kenya Prison Service, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, National Security Intelligence Service and the National Transport Safety Authority (NTSA). He directed police chiefs to ensure that all public and private vehicles are not allowed on roads after 10pm.

            “Traffic Police Officers manning road blocks that allow public service vehicles flouting the Health Ministry’s regulations aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19 virus to operate will be subjected to disciplinary action,” Natembeya warned.

            Natembeya said he was aware that practically all PSVs plying within estates and major highways in the region have defied the national government’s directive issued by the Health Cabinet Secretary, to reduce the number of passengers they carry.

            Natembeya noted that most Public Service Vehicles (PSVs) were not providing sanitizers, soap and water for their passengers as directed. He advised members of the public not to board any vehicles carrying passengers exceeding the Minister’s directive.

            He added, “We will arrest transporters who are yet to comply with the advisory. All Kenyans have an individual responsibility to do their part because if the virus is not contained it may hurt the economy.”

            The Regional Commissioner lamented that politicians were the weakest link in the fight against spread of the virus and directed police to ensure that meetings, including those in private homes, are not convened or licensed. He expressed concern that the public has failed to follow health protocols to limit the spread of Covid-19, leading to a jump in daily infections.

            He said security personnel would not hesitate to arrest all those found flouting the Covid -19 pandemic regulations including the 10pm to 4am curfew that is in force.

            “Owners of entertainment joints should exercise maximum responsibility to avoid putting lives of revellers at risk. Any outlet found to have failed to ensure that its customers observe social distancing risks having its permit being revoked permanently. Bars and restaurants must be closed by 10pm,” warned the RC.

            He dispelled fears over the safety of the Covid-19 vaccines and instead urged Kenyans to embrace the jab.

            Kenya received 1.2 million doses of AstraZeneca from the Covax facility, a global initiative to ensure equitable access to the Covid-19 vaccines.

The Regional Commissioner said Public Health Officers were under instructions to crack the whip on supermarkets, hotels and restaurants that were not observing guidelines and regulations aimed at controlling spread of the virus.

Kagwe has since directed 14-seater matatus to carry a maximum of eight passengers, 25-seaters to carry 15, buses whose sitting capacity is 30 and above to have 60 percent sitting capacity. Hotels and restaurants have been banned from operating beyond 10pm.

By Jane Ngugi  and Dennis Rasto

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