Kenya recorded the highest number of COVID 19 infections on Wednesday after 22 out the 300 sampled cases under quarantine turned positive pushing the number of those infected with highly contagious viral disease in the country to 81.
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said the fresh infection was recorded over the last 24 hours after 18 Kenyans and four foreigners who were initially isolated after jetting into the country tested positive to the virus.
He cautioned Kenyans to seriously take the directives the government was giving to avert further spread of the disease and comply with the rules to avoid the fatalities witnessed in the some European countries.
Kagwe made the remarks during his daily updates on the Coronavirus disease that has claimed more than 12,000 lives globally since the outbreak was reported in China some three months ago.
The double digit infections comes a day when the country was hopeful after two patients including the first confirmed case fully recovered from the disease after undergoing treatment over the last three weeks.
Brenda Cheruiyot who was miss Kericho County in 2018 was hospitalized with the disease after jetting into the country from the United Kingdom early last month becoming the first confirmed case in the country on the 12th of March.
Her friend Brian Orinde was also discharged upon recovery on Wednesday after testing positive among tens of people isolated for coming into contact with patient one.
And in a related development, the government has urged Kenyans to desist from panic buying as it will create unwarranted shock in the market and lead to the increase of foodstuffs.
Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives Peter Munya assured Kenyans that the government is closely monitoring the cost of food across the country, and cautioned traders who will be found inflating the price of food and agriculture inputs that stern measures will be taken against them.
The CS who was briefing the press on the coronavirus pandemic and food security in the country at Kilimo House today said the government is putting in place the necessary mechanisms to avert potential food shortages.
“The National and County governments are collaborating to ensure that food is available, accessible, affordable and safe for all Kenyan households,” assured Munya.
He at the same time announced that the government has constituted a COVID-19 County Coordination and Food Security Committee to address disruptions to the food chain and any emerging issues.
Munya said “Fresh produce for export market is accumulating at farms due to the lockdown in most countries in Europe. Flower farms have lost over 70 percent over the last one month.”
He added that vegetable and fruit markets remain with minimal activities as exporters are only shipping 25 to 30 percent of their normal capacity, as many contracted out-grower farmers have reported losses due to non-collection of their produce from their farms.
The CS stated that the ongoing restriction has made farmers in some areas unable to access markets, buy inputs and sell their products, and added that the government is putting in place measures that will allow all those in the agricultural sector to continue their operations without disruptions.
He however, noted that all the sector players will have to observe the government’s curfew rules and the ministry of health guidelines.
Munya said within two days, the Committee will release guidelines to counties, food processors, transporters, farmers, input suppliers, veterinary practitioners and other value chain actors across the country on how to conduct their business while ensuring their own safety and that of their customers.
The CS also urged farmers to continue producing food to enable the country be food secure, saying that the supply of commodities such as farm, livestock and fish production inputs and produce should be transported to areas where they are need most.
“The government has made available fertilizers at affordable prices through Kenya National Trading Corporation and the National Cereals and Produce Board stores, as we facilitate farmers to access affordable inputs and extension support,” he said.
By Victor Obure and Bernadette Khaduli