President Uhuru Kenyatta was on Saturday night dealing with one in every of his hardest moments because the clock ticked in direction of the second when he’s purported to evaluate Covid-19 restriction measures.
That is because the nation registered the best variety of infections in a day because the coronavirus was first detected within the county, and with a well being system that’s nearly stretched to its limits.
With most of the people temper pushing for whole reopening of the financial system and elimination of journey restrictions, the Head of State has been pushed right into a damned-if-you-do-damned-of-you-don’t nook.
The present restrictions embody a ban on social gatherings, cessation of motion out and in of Nairobi and Mombasa and a 9pm-to-5am curfew. Different restrictions embody the closure of faculties and banning of worldwide journey. The restrictions, which have been in place since March, have been prolonged on June 6 for an additional 30 days, and so are due for evaluate tomorrow.
If President Kenyatta absolutely opens up the financial system by permitting free motion, he might stop an financial recession however threat a surge of Covid-19 infections, particularly in rural areas as an urban-rural exodus looms.
The final time the President addressed the nation on coronavirus, the instances stood at 2,600. They’ve since surged by 176 per cent to greater than 7,000 within the final 30 days, which exhibits that Kenya continues to be but to achieve its peak of infections. The President is thus caught between a rock and arduous place.
In its newest financial outlook launched on Monday, the Worldwide Financial Fund (IMF) projected that Kenya’s financial system will shrink for the primary time in 30 years by 0.Three per cent in 2020, courtesy of the coronavirus.
Within the current GDP information launched by the Kenya Nationwide Bureau of Statistics, the financial progress slowed right down to 4.9 per cent within the first three months to March, from 5.5 per cent final yr, affected by uncertainty in regards to the pandemic.
Nonetheless, a promise being what it’s, and with varied departments pressured to give you protocols on learn how to stop a surge in infections, President Kenyatta might carry a number of restrictions as a part of a gradual reopening of the financial system.
The federal government, the Sunday Nation understands, has opted to reopen the financial system progressively to offer Kenyans time to learn to reside with the coronavirus in what’s being known as the brand new regular. Moreover, the federal government believes that reopening the financial system in phases will allow the nation to beef up its capability to deal with a surge in instances.
Nonetheless, by Saturday, an settlement had not been made on what sectors shall be reopened, with authorities technocrats and scientists differing on pointers.
Whereas the ultimate choice is the President’s, he shall be guided by suggestions from numerous ministries and committees, led by the Nationwide Emergency Response Committee of the Coronavirus.
When the Head of State held his second assembly with county governors final month over the pandemic, he indicated that his choice shall be knowledgeable by the extent of preparedness within the devolved models to answer a attainable surge in infections.
This was largely to be decided by the counties’ capability to successfully reply to new instances of Covid-19 imported into their territories within the wake of the reopening.
“County readiness to answer new imported instances of an infection will largely decide our nationwide readiness to reopen the nation as a complete,” he mentioned. “I say this as a result of the nation is the sum whole of all of the 47 counties. If the counties have met the required thresholds, then the nation shall be able to reopen.” The counties have been anticipated to satisfy the presidential goal of 300 isolation beds per county to have the ability to deal with the numbers.
Nonetheless, in a report seen by the Sunday Nation, solely 23 counties have met the goal forward of the July 7 deadline. Cumulatively, counties had attained a complete of 9,300 isolation beds, towards the nationwide goal of 30,500 models.
For ventilators and ICU beds, the 47 counties have solely 400 – 800 ventilators and 400 ICU beds.
The counties have been additionally directed by the President to establish Covid-19 hospitals of their counties for gazzetement. The Sunday Nation understands that this has not been executed.
As of Saturday, 41 out of 47 counties had reported instances of the virus, with Nairobi main with 3,532, adopted by Mombasa (1,559), Busia (423), Kajiado (278), Kiambu (276), Migori (130), Machakos (118), and Uasin Gishu (155).
Counties with the least variety of beds but they’ve recorded instances embody Siaya, with solely 20 beds, Kirinyaga (20), Nyamira (20), West Pokot (21), Bungoma (22), Nyandarua (23), Lamu (30), Trans-Nzoia (32), Narok (40) and Tana River (42).
Well being Cupboard Secretary Mutahi Kagwe has beforehand suggested the President towards reopening the financial system earlier than the response preparedness threshold is achieved, and it was not clear final night whether or not he would keep on with his weapons because the clock ticks in direction of a evaluate of the restrictions.
His arguments have been primarily based on the experiences of nations that rushed to reopen their economies with out having correct containment protocols in place, and which quickly confronted a surge in new infections.
Well being Director-Normal Patrick Amoth mentioned until the counties hand over a report that they’ve all complied with the measures, there isn’t any want for reopening as a result of that will imply the nation shall be inviting extra issues.
Counties must strengthen case administration models, put in place speedy response groups to facilitate contact tracing, and make sure that public and social well being measures are practical by making certain that masks and sanitisers are given to weak communities.
They’re additionally anticipated cease all gatherings, have a division for an infection and prevention management and practical laboratories for Covid-19 assessments.
“If these measures are put in place, along with monitoring system of instances, then we are able to advise the President to open up the nation, however till these are in place, then we should not open,” Dr Amoth mentioned.
His view was that the President can progressively open the nation, however not faculties and homes of worship as it’s arduous to take care of bodily distancing in them.
Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, who can also be chairman of the Council of Governors, proposes that cessation of motion shouldn’t be lifted until the proposed methods are adequately applied, and that this could solely apply to counties which have flattened the curve, together with Mandera.
He suggested that the curfew be maintained for so long as it takes to flatten the curve.
Prof Omu Anzala, a virologist, additionally insists that reopening the financial system will rely upon how counties are ready as lifting restrictions in Mombasa and Nairobi when others should not ready is looking for extra issues.
“We insist that counties needs to be well-prepared, identical to Nairobi, when it comes to contact-tracing, have well-equipped isolation and quarantine centres, and make sure that all of the mitigation components are adhered to,” he mentioned.
Well being Chief Administrative Secretary Rashid Aman warned of main spikes in Covid-19 numbers ought to the nation reopen due to laxity by a piece of Kenyans.
“International locations that reopened closed down once more due to the rise within the variety of infections. We should strike a stability when it comes to how we wish to see our nation transfer ahead and keep away from operating the chance of experiencing an upsurge of instances. It higher to be protected than sorry,” he mentioned.
Dr Aman indicated that even with the state of affairs of Covid-19 infections within the nation, a majority of Kenyans have been discussing the potential of authorities opening the financial system.
“This dialogue is unavoidable, however it’s clear that there’s some laxity by a majority of our individuals in adhering to the containment measures, therefore aiding the unfold of the virus,” he mentioned.
The President additionally directed the non secular organisations to give you protocols that can allow Kenyans to go to locations of worship for the primary time in additional than three months. By their nature, locations of worship additionally current Kenyans with an opportunity for associates and households to satisfy, thus it will be fascinating to notice what social distancing protocols are put in place.
The Inter-Religion Council on the nationwide response of coronavirus was by yesterday but to current its report back to President Kenyatta, with the chairman, Archbishop Anthony Muheria of the Nyeri Catholic Archdiocese, telling the Sunday Nation that his 15-member committee was nonetheless engaged on the proposals.
It’s, nevertheless, understood that the Ministry of Schooling is towards the thought of reopening tutorial establishments, saying it can not threat kids’s well being. That is regardless of an earlier indication that college students in schools and candidates for nationwide examinations may very well be allowed to renew lessons from September, however with strict protocols to cease transmissions.
The Ministry of Transport, alternatively, has been making ready for the resumption of home flights, giving hope that the ban on inter-county journey may be lifted tomorrow. The Kenya Airports Authority along with Ministry of Well being officers have been working with airways on learn how to create a protected surroundings for travelling.
Final week, President Kenyatta mentioned he was wanting to get Kenya Airways again within the skies.
However one of many key sticking factors on the resumption of native flights that’s but to be resolved is how airways will implement social distancing and nonetheless carry extra passengers to make revenue.
The federal government desires them to hold about half of their capacities as is going on with public service autos, however airways say they’ve to hold a minimum of 67 per cent of their seat capability to be worthwhile.
The opposite choice for airways is to hold fewer passengers as demanded by authorities however hike air fares as public service autos have executed, which may very well be counterproductive.