The government has imposed restrictions on movement at the international borders with Somalia and Tanzania to contain spread of Coranavirus.
President Uhuru Kenyatta in his address to that nation said the move was to check cross border spread of the highly contagious virus after surveillance teams found several travelers with infections at various entry points.
He ordered the immediate “cessation of movement of persons and any passenger ferrying automobiles and vehicles into and out of the territory of Kenya through the Kenya-Tanzania and also Kenya –Somali international border except for cargo vehicles, with effect from midnight today, Saturday 16th, May 2020”
The Head of State who chairs the National Security Council said the National Emergency Response Committee (NERC) on Coronavirus recommended the move after reviewing previous prevention measures to flatten the infection curve.
Addressing the nation from State House Nairobi president Uhuru also extended the dusk to dawn curfew by another 21 days until the 6th of June urging Kenyans to strictly adhere to the restrictions.
He said that the government will not relent in protecting the lives of Kenyans from the threat of Covid 19 pandemic but insisted that the measures were necessary to plan for the recovery of the economy.
He directed that all drivers of the cargo vehicles shall be subjected to mandatory COVID-19 testing and will only be granted entry into the territory of the Republic of Kenya if they were proven negative.
He said the cessation of movement into and out of the Nairobi Metropolitan Area and the Counties of Kilifi, Kwale, Mombasa and Mandera that was currently in force be extended up to and until the 6th June, 2020.
“Even though the measures being put in place are inconvenient to all, the far worse outcome is for the pandemic to grow out of control “ he said.
He explained that the cities and countries where the pandemic has raged out of control, have suffered near economic collapse due to the terror and paralysis it causes with economies far larger than Kenyas having been severely affected.
Despite there being national and global pressure to ease measures against the disease, President Uhuru said the National Emergency Response Committee on Corona Virus has taken a close look at reopening processes globally and established that countries like Singapore, Germany and Ghana that did extremely well initially and eased the containment measures have suffered dangerous spikes in new rates of infections.
“I am as anxious as all of you, to get back to building this country. However, we will only be able to do this the sooner we sharply suppress the growth of infections”, the President said.
President Uhuru said that in the last one week, the country has witnessed increased imported cases among individuals crossing into the country through borders making this a grave concern
“Among the positive cases that have been registered in the country this week, a total of 43 cases have recently crossed the border from neighbouring Somalia and Tanzania and as of yesterday, the cases across the border were distributed in Wajir 14, Isebania 10, Namanga 16, Lungalunga 2 and Loitoktok 1.”, the President said
The 43 cases represent almost a quarter of the 166 confirmed infections this week, President Uhuru said noting that a further 78 truck drivers who are foreign nationals tested positive for the COVID-19 disease and denied entry in the country’s territory at different border crossings.
“If we had not undertaken this intervention, the imported cases through our borders would have today accounted for more than 50 percent of the week’s infections. Within our borders, infections have now spread to 22 of our 47 Counties”, he said
These numbers and the spread of infection clearly indicate that if no action is taken, ALL the gains already achieved in combating this pandemic will undoubtedly be los, President Uhuru noted saying that since reporting of the first COVID-19 case, sthe country has recorded 830 confirmed infections and 50 deaths.
“It is disturbing to note that close to 30 percent of these recorded deaths occurred at home. I, together with millions of Kenyans mourn for the lost dreams cut short so suddenly by this disease”, he said.
On a more positive note, the President said there have been 301 individuals discharged from the health centres after fully recovering from the disease and thanked the healthcare workers for their dedication and commitment
Currently there are 481 cases undergoing treatment Globally, the coronavirus pandemic has claimed over 300,000 innocent lives as of this morning from 4.7 million infections.
By Wangari Ndirangu