At least five counties are facing fresh lockdowns and possible school closures due to movement restrictions to curb the spread of Covid-19.
The Covid-19 National Emergency Response Committee (NERC) has fingered Nairobi, Mombasa, Kericho, Nakuru and Turkana as virus hotspots, setting them up for lockdown to avoid overwhelming the ill-equipped hospitals especially in rural counties.
Kenya’s infection curve has taken a sharp turn, recording over 4,500 new cases in the past one month, with the daily average of the past seven days nearing 400 compared to 164 in the week to September 30 when President Kenyatta announced easing of containment measures across the country.
“Experts are convinced that Nakuru, Turkana and Kericho must be placed on stricter measures, while they are still debating on whether to have Nairobi and Mombasa back on these lockdowns,” a person familiar with deliberations of the NERC told the Nation.
A fresh lockdown could hit the economy hard and cost the jobs of thousands of workers as well as closure of schools.
As at Monday, 39 people were admitted to intensive care units (ICUs) across the country, with a further 1,084 to various hospitals, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said.
Council of Governors chairman Kakamega County boss Wycliffe Oparanya yesterday asked Health ministry to come up with tougher measures to contain the spread of the highly infectious virus.
Governor Oparanya said the measures should seek to control public gatherings such as rallies and funerals, and review the government’s decision to reopen bars.
“The government needs to come up with serious measures to ensure that politicians who are now having political meetings are checked because they have really contributed to this spread,” Mr Oparanya told the Nation.
“If the current surge in infections continues, it will be difficult to contain the situation if the Ministry of Health does not come up with tough regulations to deal with the situation,” he added.
Governors have planned a meeting in Mombasa on Thursday and Friday to discuss challenges the devolved units are facing in tackling the current wave of infections and draft recommendations on the way forward. The country’s positivity rate has tripled in the past month, coupled with a steady rise in hospital admissions.
The Covid-19 Response Committee, which met on Sunday, discussed the possibility of having selected counties under new restriction measures, but a firm decision could be made in the next meeting in two-days’ time, on Thursday.
CS Kagwe on Sunday said Kenyans should brace themselves for fresh containment measures, warning of a “potential crisis”.
“Today, at a 12 per cent incline and a daily rise in deaths, we can confidently point to a potential crisis unless we take some immediate action to avert this. We can choose to sink or swim,” he said, adding that the country was headed for ‘tough times ahead’.