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CS Fred Matiangi addressing a press conference with members of the Inter-Faith Council at Serena Hotel on June 21, 2021.

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Govt extends mandate of Interfaith Council to Dec 31 over COVID-19 spike

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 21- The government has extended the mandate of the Inter-Faith Council (IFC) by six months until December 31 due to the surging COVID-19 cases in recent weeks.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi said the Council’s advice is still critical as the country continues to fight the spread of COVID-19.

“There are many activities that are ahead where our colleagues at the Ministry of Health will require collaboration with the council as they continue with the vaccination exercise. At that point, we will have to work with structures of the IFC to ensure we support and secure our people,” Matiangi said, “The Government will extend the term of the Inter-Faith Council until Dec. 31, 2021, in recognition of the success recorded in the war against the COVID-19 pandemic through the religious institutional structures. I will be issuing a gazette notice on the same soon.”

The Council’s Chairperson Archbishop Anthony Muheria pointed out that they are doing their best to ensure that worship is conducted in the safest way possible and called on religious leaders especially in the 13 Counties where measures were heightened last week to heed to all COVID-19 protocols.

“We ask our religious leaders, patiently to continue following these measures that have been given as we look into what we can be able to accommodate. As we all know, there is always the line of live streaming which continues at these difficult times that we are in as we try to still reach our congregants,” he said.

The council is tasked to develop protocols for worship services, celebration of weddings and other religious ceremonies under COVID-19 containment protocols which include social distancing.

The extension of the council’s term comes at a time of heightened efforts to slow the spread of the virus in the country particularly in the thirteen counties of Nyanza and Western regions.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said the counties of Busia, Vihiga, Kisii, Nyamira, Kakamega, Kericho, Bomet, Bungoma, Trans-Nzoia, Kisumu, Siaya, Homa-Bay and Migori accounted for 60 per cent of the national virus caseload in two weeks, hence the decision to declare them hotspot zones.

“The positivity rate in the aforementioned counties averages 21 percent against a national average of 9 per cent,” Kagwe noted.

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He said their proximity to the neighboring Uganda which has been registering a spike in cases had contributed to the surge in infections in the listed counties.

Kagwe also announced a ban on all forms of gatherings and in-person meetings in the hotspot zone, including house parties and sporting activities.

The ban also apply to all forms of physical/congregational worship (churches, mosques, temples and shrines) in the hotspot counties for a period of 30 days.

By June 20, the country had recorded 179, 075 COVID-19 infections with 3, 456 fatalities and 122,704 recoveries.

995,012 had received their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine by mid-June while 188,364 had received the second.

The government said 385,000 doses of AstraZeneca were expected on June 21.

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