Kenya announces plans to enhance social distancing

FILE PHOTO: Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe addresses the Media at Afya House Nairobi. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe addresses the Media at Afya House Nairobi. /Photo by Social Media

The Kenyan government on Friday announced a raft of measures to maintain social distancing between people in a bid to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

Among the measures is that starting Monday next week, all bars, social places and entertainment joints will be closed at 7.30pm (East African Time) until further notice.

During operational hours, such facilities must define the number of people in those public spaces so as to strictly follow regulations on social distancing of 1.5 metres apart between persons.

NAIROBI, KENYA – 2018 DECEMBER 3./ Getty Images

The public transport vehicles have been directed to also implement the social distancing requirement where 14-seater vehicles (locally known as matatus in the East African nation) will be required to carry 8 people.

The 25-seater vehicles will henceforth ferry 14 passengers while those with a capacity of 30 persons will be required to transport 60 percent of their space.

Kenyans jam supermarkets in panic shopping over coronavirus fears./Photo Courtesy: Social Media

Supermarkets have been encouraged to open doors to the public for 24 hours and request the government to provide security for their premises.

However their managements were directed to control the number of shoppers entering such places.This will be done based on the size of the supermarket. This regulation also applies to the eateries.

According to the Kenyan health minister Mutahi Kagwe, preferences should be accorded to the elderly, expectant mothers and People With Disabilities.

This even as such places were encouraged to come up with innovative ways to deliver services to their customers at home.

“Supermarkets and eateries also will be required to disinfect their premises regularly.This even as vegetable markets must ensure their goods are displayed at a raised platform,” the minister said.

Both private and public hospitals will effectively restrict the number of people visiting patients.

“The next two weeks are going to be critical in the fight against coronavirus pandemic.However the government is prepared for all the scenarios including the worst cases,” Kagwe added.

He revealed that a total of 44 people have been given a clean bill of health and were released from hospital after being in isolation for 14 days.

Additionally, he said the government is awaiting results on four patients admitted to Mbagathi Hospital, as one tested negative and is being prepared for discharge.

The seven who tested positive for the coronavirus  are continuing with treatment but in stable condition he said.

According to the minister, authorities were forced to move in and pick an individual from the coastal parts of the country and who had disobeyed directive to self isolate after it emerged that he had entered the country from abroad.

The minister also said that no plane will be allowed to fly in people from the “pandemic epicenter” countries if they are not Kenyans or foreigners residing and with work permits in the country.

He said this week Kenyan authorities returned certain foreigners to their countries of origin and who had jetted in the country on-board Ethiopian Airlines and the national career Kenya Airways.

He encouraged Kenyans to follow the directives keenly, saying the success or failure of the government in curbing the spread of the virus is highly dependent on individual responsibility.