Kenyan leader rules out total lockdown amid surge in COVID-19 cases

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, April 22, 2020
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NAIROBI, April 22 (Xinhua) -- Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday ruled out a total lockdown to deal with coronavirus and instead called on citizens to adhere to the measures set by the government to reduce further spread of the virus.

Kenyatta also ruled out mass testing for coronavirus, saying the ministry of health will instead start targeting high-risk populations for testing from this weekend.

"We don't want to go for a total lockdown, people can still get food from markets. We listed food transportation as an essential service. Food security remains one of our main focus as the government," he said in Nairobi during a live interview with radio stations.

Kenyatta called on Kenyans to comply with the restrictions and guidelines issued by the government to avoid more extreme measures.

He said his government has expanded its testing capacities and will target specific areas and personnel such as the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) employees and the healthcare workers.

"We will be doing at least 2,000 tests from this weekend. Mass testing at KPA has been done, moving forward, we will be doing target testing, on the hotspots," Kenyatta said.

He warned that anyone caught flouting the curfew guidelines would be forced to a quarantine center and cater for their accommodation expenses.

"Those that are arrested for flouting night curfew regulations must pay for their accommodation. You cannot be a burden to the law-abiding citizens, everyone must carry his own cross," he warned.

Kenyatta said that just like Easter, Muslims would have to observe the holy month of Ramadan from their home due to the nature of the new coronavirus pandemic.

"We told Christians during Easter that you cannot mark this day. We respect all religions, but we have said that let us all celebrate and mark these religious days in our homes, on radio and on television," he said.

"I ask our Muslim brothers and sisters to mark the holy month of Ramadan like they have not done before because these are extraordinary times," Kenyatta added.

In addition to dusk-to-dawn curfew, the government now requires people to maintain a meter's distance between them and the next person while in public spaces.

Users of public or private transport and public service vehicle operators are also required to wear a proper mask that must cover the mouth and nose.

Motorcycle taxi operators are only allowed to carry one passenger at a time while private vehicles are to avoid carrying more than 50 percent of licensed capacity.

Flouting of the new regulations will see offenders fined 20,000 shillings (about 200 U.S. dollars) or six months imprisonment.

Kenya has also banned both international and domestic flights and restricted inter-county movements in four COVID-19 affected regions as part of measures to contain the spread of the deadly virus.

Kenyatta said national examinations are still on as scheduled, assuring anxious learners and education stakeholders that measures will be put into place to ensure they recover lost time once the pandemic is contained. Enditem

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