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I was between a rock and a hard place, Uhuru says of new COVID-19 measures

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 7 – The question of whether to open the economy or not, is not a matter of being right or wrong, but a dilemma of two rights.

That was President Uhuru Kenyatta’s confession during his long-awaited speech on Saturday when he declared that he will only re-open the economy once infections of COVID-19 go down.

“Those who want to open are right and those opposed to opening are also right. This clash of two rights placed us on the horns of a dilemma. If we had not taken the stringent measures we took in March, the rate of infections in Kenya would have peaked to 800,000 people by the end of July this year,” Kenyatta said.

With the number of positive cases now at 2600, the Head of State says the current containment measures if relaxed by 20 percent, they will rise to 200,000 with 30,000 deaths by December.

“If we were to go even further and relax them by 60 percent, the pandemic will peak in October with 450,000 infections with 45,000 deaths. Although,   these projections are generated by a model, our experts have shown us hard evidence suggesting that countries that opened up their economies without proper models, experienced serious waves of infections,” Kenyatta added.

President Kenyatta further expressed fears that counties are not ready to handle surging figures of the COVID-19 infections as their health facilities are not well equipped and they might be overwhelmed if things were to go back to normal.

He cited the example of Siaya County which has only a 10-bed isolation facility and has admitted nine patients so far as well as Busia County whose 34-bed isolation facility is fully occupied.

The Head of State extended the nationwide night curfew for 30 more days but it will now start from 9pm to 4am, to enable businesses thrive for more hours.

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The new order takes effect on June 7.

The cessation of movement in and out of Eastleigh, Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale will end on June 7 at 4am.

President Kenyatta said he lifted the order, after infection rates slowed down in the four counties.

However, Nairobi, Mombasa and Mandera counties will remain on lockdown with restricted movement which continue to record high infection rates.

The ban on all forms of gatherings, including political meetings will remain in effect for 30 more days.

This includes bars, where revelers were hoping, will be declared open by President Uhuru Kenyatta in his Saturday address from State House, Nairobi.

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