NAIROBI, Kenya Aug 26 – President Uhuru Kenyatta has extended the nationwide dusk to dawn curfew, which has been in force since March, to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the country, for another thirty more days.
The Head of State made the announcement on Wednesday during his eleventh address to the nation on the status of COVID-19 in the country. He acknowledged that majority of Kenyans were adhering to the COVID-19 set public health protocols, in what is attributed to the low infections recorded in recent days.
By August 26, the country had recorded 33,016 cases and 564 deaths.
“I am happy to note that majority of Kenyans have exercised a reasonable level of civic responsibility in observing COVID Protocols,” he said, in announcing 213 new cases.
And to ensure that the country fully gets to break the cycle of infections and possibly flatten the curve, President Kenyatta said it is imperative that Kenyans maintain the guard.
“We note the good progress we have made so far in fighting this enemy, but, this positive news is no license for us to drop guard and backslide from our path of responsibility,” he said.
With the number of infections in the previsions known hot spots like Nairobi and Mombasa having stabilized their rate of infections, President Kenyatta challenged counties not to relent in efforts to minimize the virus spread.
“Whereas there is no doubt, a notable expansion of the health sector architecture has taken place in the counties, more needs to be done. And the pace of this expansion should be increased in order to cope with the gradual shift of this pandemic to the counties,” he said.
The country has been recording less than 300 cases daily since last week, significantly lower than earlier days when cases topped nearly 1000 daily on average.
The Head of State has directed Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe and the Council of Governors chairman Wycliffe Oparanya to establish a National Reference Group on COVID-19 to review the country’s effectiveness so far in the war against the virus.
He tasked the group to come up with other suitable measures on how the fight against the virus can be enhanced, including collaborative efforts in research for a vaccination.
“The National Reference Group on COVID-19 should expand their ongoing work and establish the Kenya COVID Vaccine Consortium, bringing together relevant stakeholders locally and internationally, to sharpen their focus on the development and testing of COVID-19 vaccine locally.
The group is expected to formulate strategies to identify institutional weaknesses within healthcare system at both tiers; recommend ways to increase the representation of the County Governments in the Boards of Healthcare Agencies; and recommend ways in which our national responses to healthcare emergencies can be improved.
Within three weeks, the government and counties will hold a national consultative conference to review progress made so far in the war against COVID-19 and seek to establish ways to improve.
The Head of State also directed the country’s investigative agencies to accelerate investigations into the use of COVID-19 funds, to be finalised in three weeks.
Vowing that no one will be spared, the president said his government was committed to accountability of public funds.
“I am today directing investigative agencies seized with this matter to finalise it in 21 days,” the president said in an address from State House.
And he warned, “no one will be spared.”
The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) is investigating the loss of more than Sh7 billion for COVID-19 funds in contracts issued by the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA) whose CEO Jonah Manjari and three other senior officials were suspended.
The president’s directive ends raging debate ignited by the Orange Democratic Party (ODM) and its leader Raila Odinga, who wants an audit conducted before an investigation of the allegations on the misappropriation of funds at KEMSA.
Deputy President William Ruto has lately engaged in a war of words with the ODM leaders, accusing them of doublespeak.