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Smoking is not banned in Kenya but smoking in public is prohibited. /AFP-FILE.

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Smokers can be COVID-19 super spreaders, Health Ministry warns

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 1- The Ministry of Health has warned that tobacco smokers are a danger in spreading COVID-19, with renewed calls for them to quit the habit.

Health Chief Administrative Secretary, Dr. Rashid Aman all forms of smoking is not only dangerous to the smokers, but to people around them.

“It is advisable for the to quit smoking,” Dr Aman said, in a warning Tuesday that asymptomatic COVID-19 smokers can easily spread the virus.

“They are always coughing and this is very dangerous,” he said, while announcing 114 new cases.

“Tobacco use presents a risk through the spread of infection through product handling, frequent spitting and sharing of paraphernalia. Smokers often have a persistent cough and an infected COVID-19 smoker who are not yet symptomatic could easily be a source of the spread of infection as the cough may be dismissed as a smokers cough,” Aman said.  

In Kenya’s main urban centres like Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu, smoking in public is prohibited.

The government has provided designated smoking zones in various parts of the towns, but implementation of the regulations remains a challenge.

“We urge those who use tobacco in any form for there are no safe tobacco products, to please place their health first and quit tobacco,” Aman urged.

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Kenya opened the month of September with zero COVID-19 deaths, with just 114 cases.

The cases have been dropping significantly since last month, in what President Uhuru Kenyatta attributes to the strict measures employed by his government.

The East African nation is still implementing a night curfew since April, with bars and all forms of entertainment joints ordered closed.

“We had 114 cases from 1,682 samples,” Dr Aman, said, updating the country’s caseload to 34,215.

“Fortunately,” he said, “there was no death.”

Dr Aman urged total compliance to regulations by the Health Ministry to help flatten the curve.

“We continue to advocate for the adherence of the set containment measures so as to defeat the spread of the virus in the country,” he said.

Aman further announced that 263 COVID-19 patients who were under the home-based care treatment had been cleared of the virus while another 55 were discharged from the hospitals raising the total number of recoveries in the country to 20, 211.

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