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Laikipia County Assembly adjourns indefinitely over Coronavirus fears

The  Kajiado County Governor, Joseph Ole Lenku addresses  the press in Kajiado on March 17, 2020. Photo by KNA.

Laikipia  County Assembly has adjourned its sittings indefinitely following the Corona Virus scare that has hit the country and the world.

The  Speaker,  Patrick  Waigwa  while adjourning the house said that the move was in response to the Presidential directive that government workers should work from home to stem the spread of the virus in the country until such a time the country will be declared free of the spread.

Speaking on Tuesday to the press at the assembly offices, Waigwa added that the house was keen on ensuring that members and other staff’s health was paramount therefore the move was necessary to safeguard on their wellbeing.

“Since we care for the health of our members and staff and which is paramount, we cannot leave anything to chance therefore we have suspended sittings to avoid crowding and allow them to work from home,” Waigwa said.

The  Speaker added that Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) had been sensitised on how to create awareness in the community to prevent the spread of the disease. The assembly consists of 15 elected members and nine nominated.

“That is why we invited the County Executive Committee (CEC) member for Health, Dr. Lenai Kamario to create that awareness so that members will go down to the people and their families with facts about Covid 19 because leaders can help a lot to fight these fears most of which are not factual based,” the speaker added.

Dr. Kamario said that he had briefed the MCAs on the measures of preparedness and surveillance, the health department had embarked on in all the county facilities to tame the spread of the virus.

“The MCAs are an integral part of the society who play a key role and at this juncture, as they go for recess, we task them with the responsibility of passing down information to the public and demystify misconceptions about Coronavirus,” Dr. Kamario said.

The CEC cited misconceptions such as alcohol and herbs such as garlic could kill the virus that needed to be changed by giving the public accurate information on how best to tackle the spread of the disease.

“We have equipped the MCAs with facts about Corona virus, the signs, and symptoms, the risk factors, how it is transmitted and how we can prevent our county and the people from getting the infection,” he added.

Kenya has so far reported four cases of the Corona virus infection.

At the same time, the Kajiado county government has set aside Sh. 50 million to cater for purchase of protective gear for the medical staff in various health facilities in an effort to curb the spread of Coronavirus in the area.

He noted that three isolation centres at the Kajiado Referral Hospital, Kitengela Sub-county hospital and Ole Kesasi Health centre in Ongata Rongai had been set up with two other centres being set up in Oloitokitok and Namanga.

While addressing a press conference in Kajiado on Tuesday the County Governor, Joseph Ole Lenku also revealed that 150 health workers had already been trained on prevention, control and management of the Corona virus pandemic.

He  also announced the immediate closure of night clubs, bars and open air markets in Kajiado County to curb the spread of the disease.

“Following the first confirmation of Corona virus patient from Ongata Rongai Kajiado County, I hereby order an immediate closure of all open air markets, bars and night clubs till further notice to prevent the spread of the virus in the county” he said.

Lenku further directed that all defined markets should provide hand washing facilities at their entries and market committees be trained on preventive measures against Covid 19.

He added that surveillance had been heightened at Namanga, Shomploe and Loitokitok entry points from Tanzania and six ambulances had been set aside on 24-hours call in case of any cases.

“We have increased surveillance at all entry points at the border and we have six ambulances on 24 hours call dedicated to this cause,” he said.

The Governor also directed that hospital visits be restricted and public awareness campaigns on the virus be started with immediate effect.

The County Assembly Speaker, Johnson Osoi suspended County assembly sittings for the next two weeks to curb the spread of Corona Virus among MCAs and county assembly staff.

Osoi banned all foreign travel by members and staff with immediate effect and urged those who had travelled within the past 14 days to the country from a destination with confirmed corona virus cases to self–quarantine.

“County Assembly proceedings have been suspended with immediate effect for the next two weeks and all MCAs and members of staff advised to work from home to avoid the spread of corona virus,” said Osoi.

He encouraged staff to work from home to reduce crowding in offices and urged Kenyans to adhere strictly to preventive measures to curb the spread of the virus.

Kajiado County is among the 14 counties placed on high alert for corona virus. Others are Nairobi, Mombasa, Kiambu, Uasin Gishu, Busia, Migori, Kilifi, Kakamega, Wajir, Nakuru and Garissa.

A  27 year old woman from Ongata Rongai, Kajiado County became the first patient to test positive for the disease on March 13.

Elsewhere, the  Busia County Assembly has adjourned its operations for 15 days following the outbreak of corona virus in the country.

In  a communication to the MCAs at the assembly on Tuesday, the Busia County Assembly Speaker, Benard Wamalwa said the period might be extended depending on further directive by the National government over the pandemic.

Wamalwa said that all the Assembly staff including ward managers not executing essential services will proceed on leave for 15 days.

He explained that the initiative followed a meeting by all heads of departments, adding that less than 10 staff in the assembly will remain to execute daily activities and security manning at ward offices.

The speaker reminded the members that it is their responsibility to sensitise the electorate and give them hope over the infectious disease.

The  assembly’s Deputy majority leader, Moses Ochieng pointed out that the circular from the County Assembly forum dated March 16, 2020 advised all County Assemblies across the country to suspend their sittings and operations from Tuesday 17, March for the next 15 days with a view to reduce the impact of the virus, except for very crucial matters and service departments that may require to work.

Meanwhile, most government offices in Busia County have heeded to the government’s directive to ensure that clients seeking services at their offices have their hands sanitized.

A  spot check by KNA revealed that Busia police station, County Commissioner’s office premises, governor’s office among others hand flowing water and disinfectants placed at the entry points.

KNA  also established that a number of super markets had run out of stock of sanitisers and hand washing water containers.

However, Public transport providers neither provided their clients with hand sanitisers nor flowing water and detergents for regular hand washing.

According to the Health Cabinet Secretary, Mutahi Kagwe, four Kenyans have so far tested positive to the coronavirus.

By  Martin  Munyi/Rop Janet/Salome Alwanda

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