NAIROBI - Kenyan health officials say the public has failed to follow health protocols to limit the spread of COVID-19, leading to a jump in daily infections. Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta now is reintroducing new measures to curb the virus's spread, just weeks after lifting some restrictions.
Speaking to the country Wednesday following several weeks of rising number of COVID-19 infections, President Uhuru Kenyatta called on Kenyans to adhere to public health protocols meant to limit the spread of the virus.
“County government and other government agencies [are] to enhance and strictly enforce all public health measures, including hand washing, social distancing and mandatory wearing of masks in public places, and to enhance civic responsibility. The national government and county government have to be resolved going forward services will not be rendered to anyone who does not abide by the Ministry of Health protocols,” he said.
Kenyatta instructed ministers to work virtually, ban public gatherings, move up the nightly curfew to 10 p.m., and extend the curfew until January.
Kenyatta said the gains made in previous months have been wiped out in just under eight weeks.
“The occupancy of our COVID beds has now gone up by 140 percent in this, just in the last 38 days of easing our COVID measures," he said. "The COVID positivity rate that we were all happy and very excited about when it dropped to 4 percent in September has now shot up to an incredible 16 percent in the month of October. This is four times what it was in September.”
Kenyatta also spoke of enforcing localized lockdowns and movement restrictions in areas where there is an upsurge in cases.
"Where there is an upsurge in of COVID-19 cases in a specific county will consult the affected county to issue localized lockdowns and movement restrictions as may be necessary to stem the spread."
On September 27, positive cases stood at 38,000. Since Kenyatta eased restrictions allowing bars and club to operate, and pushing the nighttime curfew to 11 p.m., Kenya has recorded 19,000 cases in just 38 days — an average of 500 cases a day.
Simon Njoroge is the chairman of the Kenya Bars and Hotels Association, and he says establishments will follow the new restrictions.
“We were very worried. It’s good to say we were all worried, but I can see the president understands we also have families, and this is a business that we have to put money in order for it to work," he said. "The good thing is that we are allowed to continue with our work. One hour is not a big problem. People should understand that it's either we take care of ourselves or the business to be closed.”
However, coronavirus fatigue is setting in after more than seven months, says Omu Anzala, who is a virology and immunology professor at the University of Nairobi.
“People are getting fatigued because they seem to see no end in sight, and they are told to continue to do the same, but most people thought maybe we will do this for three months and go back to normal. But nobody seems to see any normal, going back to normal in the near future,” he said.
Kenya has recorded at least 57,000 COVID-positive cases and more than 1,000 deaths since March.