The county government of Murang’a has banned movement of public vehicles in and out of the county in an effort to prevent COVID-19 transmission.
On Monday, Governor Mwangi wa Iria said county askaris and public health officers will be deployed at bus termini to ensure only people with emergency cases are allowed to move out of the county.
“We have to take stringent measures and save people from contracting this disease. Preventing people from movement is painful but it’s an effective way to contain spread of coronavirus,” stressed Wa Iria.
Speaking during a press conference in Murang’a town, the governor observed that in recent past there have been many people traveling especially from Nairobi to upcountry, arguing that move puts many residents at risk of contracting the disease.
Wa Iria further said they have been receiving many calls from locals informing them of visitors, including those from abroad who failed to observe self-quarantine.
He said five people traveled to the county last week and officers were forced to search for them and forcefully quarantined them.
Family members of the visitors were also picked and put on quarantine with the governor condemning relatives of the visitors for hiding them.
“In total, 29 people have been put in forced quarantine in this county and currently we are searching for one person who arrived at Kambwe area of Kiharu from Italy on Monday. It’s very careless for family members to hide a person who has arrived from overseas at this time,” stated Wa Iria.
He castigated the directive of telling passengers from overseas to observe self-quarantine, saying such a directive can be ignored by many.
The governor said the ministry of health should put a forced quarantine even if it will have to set aside a hostel to contain all visitors for 14 days.
“When people are released from airport and asked to observe self-quarantine, it’s just a joke, as many of them ignore the directive and end up interacting with their people at home,” posed Wa Iria.
Meanwhile, the exercise of fumigating all open air markets within the county kicked off on Sunday.
The county officials will be spraying chemicals at all markets once per three days to help contain spread of the disease.
The governor challenged all traders to be on look out and maintain hygiene to stop spread of the disease.
“We are not planning to close our markets but if the traders will not follow up laid down measures, we will not have an option but to lock down the markets. All traders should ensure they have water all the time for their customers to wash their hands,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Elgeyo Marakwet County is in the process of procuring three ventilators to be used in the 20 bed isolation ward at the Iten county referral hospital in a bid to deal with cases of Covid-19 that may arise.
The County Executive for Health, Kiprono Chepkok said while the county does not have adequate funds, it will strive to ensure they have the ventilators, which are critical in case they receive a patient with respiratory problems.
While briefing the press in Iten on Tuesday, Chepkok said while the county had been classified as low risk, it has the highest number of foreigners in the athletic training camps, adding that even after closing the camps, they didn’t leave.
He added that even now visitors are still coming saying they received a person from Hungary three days ago.
Chepkok called on the national government to ensure they get details of all foreigners and where they are going right at the airport so that they can inform the counties before they are left to go.
While the government is set to ban international flights from Wednesday night, monitoring of all foreigners remained crucial.
The county executive called for total adherence to every measure spelt by both levels of government to contain the spread of the virus saying supermarkets, hotels and others found to flout such rules will have their premises closed indefinitely.
He further urged boda boda operators to maintain a distance of 5 meters as they wait for customers’ failure to which their services will be terminated.
At the same time, Chepkok appealed to residents to maintain social distance and wash hands saying the county had ensured that there were handwashing points in all public areas.
The transport from Iten to Eldoret has gone up from sh.100 – sh.150 while passengers heading to Kapsowar will now be required to pay sh.300 up from sh.200 as matatus reduce passengers to prevent spread of the Covid 19 virus.
The move has however, affected operators and passengers alike with some drivers, saying they may be forced to suspend operations claiming that even after increasing fare, they still cannot make ends meet.
“The cost of fuel has remained constant while the passengers have reduced and on top of that, we are required to buy sanitizers which are being sold at over sh.1, 000,” said Paul Kibet a driver with Kerio Prestige.
James Kosgey who was heading to Kapsowar said most people will just have to quarantine themselves as directed by the government as the cost of transport is too high.
Jacob Rono a driver called on Kenyans to strictly comply with government directives and stay home for at least 14 days to minimize the spread so that things can go back to normal.
“While we are supposed to carry less passengers, even those few may be infected so there is still a risk of infecting others with the disease and therefore the need to stay home for now,” he said.
By Bernard Munyao/Alice Wanjiru