President Uhuru Kenyatta addressing the nation on the footsteps of Harambee House on July 6, 2020. Kenya's public debt stands at Ksh6.6 trillion {Photo: State House}

The country is on the right track in combating COVID-19 and if Kenyans remain responsible and observe discipline, Kenya could reach the point where it would be safe enough to fully reopen the economy in the coming months, President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Wednesday.

Speaking during a televised address to the country from State House, Nairobi, President Kenyatta stated that health experts have indicated that the levels of positivity rate countrywide have fallen from a high of 13% in June to 8% in August.

“Infections have gotten to a managable level, infact, we are reporting more recoveries in some instances than infections. Hotspots like Mombasa and Nairobi have began to stabilize,” said Uhuru.

“This is very encouraging and means if we keep our civic responsibility high, we have a high likelihood of reaching the 5% positivity rate recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) for the total reopening of our economy and country,” he said.

“While we note the good progress we have made while fighting this enemy, we must also acknowledge that this positive news is not a licence for us to drop guard and backslide from our path of responsibility,” he added.

This was on a day that Kenya confirmed 213 new cases of COVID-19, taking the country’s total caseload to 33,016.

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By Wednesday morning, 241 more Kenyans had recovered from the virus pushing the total number of recoveries to 19,246 while 5 Kenyans lost their lives to the virus within the reporting period.

The president noted that the raft of economic measures since March to cushion Kenyans from the adverse effects of COVID-19 including the reduction of the Pay as You Earn (PAYE) tax rates has put Ksh48 billion in the pockets of Kenyans.

Orders

The president also issued a raft of orders to contain the spread of the virus while balancing that with the socio-economic impacts of such directives.

Uhuru ordered his directive that required the closure of bars and nightclubs to be extended for a further 30 days. He however vacated the prohibition against the sale of alcohol by licensed hotels with residents.

It is not all gloom for bar and nightclub owners as President Kenyatta directed The Ministry of Health to in the next thirty days in conjunction with all bar owners develop self-regulating mechanisms to allow the reopening of entertainment joints.

The president revised the closing time for restaurants and eateries by one hour from 7 pm to 8 pm which will apply as of Thursday, August 27, 2020.

Uhuru also extended the nationwide curfew that is currently in force between 9pm and 4am by a further 30 days.

The Head of State also ordered The Ministry of Sports, Culture and Heritage in consultation with the Ministry of Health to issue guidelines on the gradual resumption of sporting events in Kenya.

As indicated earlier by the Ministry of Industrialization and the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS), the President confirmed that the ban on second-hand clothing (mitumba) trade has been lifted while the government is expected to issue further guidelines regarding the same on Thursday.

In accordance with the recommendations of the Inter-Faith Council, the maximum number of people permitted to attend funerals and weddings was also reviewed upwards from 15 to 100 with all the attendants required to abide with the Ministry of Health (MoH) protocols.

Way Forward

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i was ordered to in conjunction with the Chairperson of the Council of Governors (CoG) Wycliffe Oparanya convene an inclusive National Consultative Conference in three weeks to review the country’s COVID-19 response so far.

Health Cabinet Secretary for Health Mutahi Kagwe was also ordered to jointly with the CoG Chairperson to constitute the National Reference Group on COVID-19 to review the efficacy of the country’s response to the pandemic so far.

According to Uhuru, the group will also be tasked with recording lessons learnt and feed them back into the sector nationally and in the counties

“The group should also formulate strategies to identify institutional weaknesses within our healthcare systems at national and county levels and recommend ways to increase the representation of county governments in boards of national agencies and recommend ways in which our national responses to healthcare emergencies can be improved,” said Uhuru.

COVID-19 Millionaires

The President also ordered government agencies probing the theft of COVID-19 funds at the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA) to expedite their ongoing investigations and conclude the same within 21 days.

“In line with my stated public policy on zero tolerance to corruption, I want to once again reiterate that all persons found to be culpable in those ongoing investigations should be brought to book notwithstanding their public office or their political or their social status,” said Uhuru.

See Also>>>>> Bar Owners Project Sh50bn Loss After Uhuru Directive

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Samuel Gitonga is a senior reporter at BUSINESS TODAY. Email: [email protected]

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