Kenya tightens restrictions as virus cases rise


With Kenya’s COVID-19 cases and deaths surging, President Uhuru Kenyatta has announced tightened restrictions in five of the most affected counties.

The new restrictions have been imposed in the country’s capital Nairobi and the three urban counties surrounding it, plus Nakuru, a major transit city.

“Our rate of infection has gone up 10 times between January and March of 2021,” Kenyatta said in a nationally televised address.

The country, with a population of 53 million people, has a cumulative total of 126,170 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including more than 2,000 deaths.

Kenya’s 7-day rolling average of daily new cases has more than doubled over the past two weeks from 1.02 new cases per 100,000 people on March 11 to 2.29 new cases per 100,000 people on March 25, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The country’s rate of deaths has quadrupled, with the 7-day rolling average of daily deaths surging from 0.01 deaths per 100,000 people on March 11 to 0.04 deaths per 100,000 people on March 25.

Kenyatta urged those eligible for the first round of vaccinations to get the jab as soon as possible.

On March 3 Kenya received 1.02 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.

It was the first batch from the global COVAX initiative that was created to ensure that low- and middle-income countries have fair access to vaccines.

The government said the vaccines will be administered to some 400,000 medical workers and the rest will go to other frontline workers such as teachers and police officers.

However, medical workers and other Kenyans have not been getting the vaccinations in large numbers, according to health experts.

In recent weeks many Kenyans have shown signs of relaxing the safety measures by not wearing masks in their neighborhoods and some bars and nightclubs operating past the curfew hours.

But the deaths of three media personalities have highlighted the dangers of the disease.

In the five affected counties, Kenyatta has ordered a curfew to start two hours earlier from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m.

“All movement into out of the counties must stop immediately until further notice,” he said.

Kenyatta has also banned all public gatherings and in-person meetings of whatever nature in the counties.