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Masks are not optional, Kagwe tells passengers as virus threat heightened

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 3 – It is now mandatory for passengers on Public Service Vehicles (PSV’s) to wear protective masks after the government warned of a heightened threat of contracting coronavirus.

The directive was issued on Thursday by Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe, when he updated Kenya’s COVID-19 death toll to 3 and 29 new infections raising the number to 110 so far.

Four people, including Kilifi Deputy Governor Gideon Saburi, have recovered and discharged from hospital.

“We have many people with the virus. Boarding a matatu without a mask means you can easily get infected,” the CS said.

Health CS Mutahi Kagwe and other ministry officials at Afya House.

The government said local producers are already manufacturing face masks which will be available in the market, with free distribution to boda boda riders.

He said Kenyans must also continue observing all the precautionary measures, at a time the number of people with the virus has jumped to 110.

“We are doing this so that Kenyans can live,” he said and warned of more stringent measures in the coming days.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has already imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew across the country, in measures aimed at preventing the spread of the virus that has so far killed more than 50,000 people and infected a million others globally.

Italy and Spain are the worst hit.

Kagwe said traffic police officers will undergo training and will be equipped with thermo-guards- to undertake random testing of body temperatures for passengers.

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On Thursday, Kagwe warned Kenyans against unnecessary travel, particularly those in Nairobi which has the highest number of infections.

“Shelve travel plans even those planning to go to upcountry for Easter,” he said, warning “this is not the right time to travel.”

Level Four, Five and Six hospitals have been urged to continue hiring more staff, to ensure there is an additional 6,000 health workers as Kenyan positions itself in the fight against the pandemic.

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