Presidents Donald Trump (US) right, and Uhuru Kenyatta left during a meeting at the White House. The two have firmed up bilateral relations where Kenya-US Free Trade Agreement is key among the deliberations. www.businesstoday.co.ke
Presidents Donald Trump (US) right, and Uhuru Kenyatta left during a meeting at the White House. James Kariuki opines Kenya should closely interrogate its trade deal with the US. [Photo/WH]

The United States has committed USD6.6 million (Ksh705 million) to help fight Coronavirus in Kenya, US Ambassador to Kenya Kyle McCarter said on Tuesday.

Speaking during an interview with Dala FM and later in a statement posted on the embassy’s website, McCarter said the additional resources will be used for surveillance, laboratory supplies and strengthening, and surge staffing costs.

By Monday evening, Kenya had reported 343 cases of the Novel Coronavirus and 14 fatalities while the numbers are expected to rise significantly in the coming months.

McCarter said $1.8 million (Ksh193 million) will be immediately released to support critical needs for the COVID-19 response in Kenya.

This funding according to McCarter will be used to procure diagnostic sampling and testing supplies, provide county-level support, expand surveillance of COVID-19, and support health care workers in infection prevention and control practices among other key activities.

“President Trump made his first phone call to Africa and the big news is that the phone call went to President Kenyatta and there is a reason why he called President Kenyatta first is that we have a special friendship, they have a special friendship and Kenya is special to the United States,” said the envoy.

“You know we are working on a special Free Trade Agreement, we are working on helping with COVID-19,” he added.

According to envoy, since early January 2020, the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) has deployed nearly 50 Kenya-based technical experts to support Kenya to prepare for and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The CDC experts according to McCarter are working side-by-side with Kenyan health officials at the national laboratory, county government offices, and the Public Health Emergency Operations Center in a range of activities, including training, providing technical assistance, and supporting the training of disease epidemiologists (disease discovery experts).

COVID-19 Warchest

The money donated by the American government will supplement the Ksh1.28 billion raised by the COVID-19 Fund and some Ksh116 billion to be raised from global financial institutions.

But questions have been raised regarding whether the government can be trusted to allocate that money towards the rightful purposes.

The government also says that it is supporting weekly cash transfers to vulnerable families to the tune of Ksh2,000 per week. President Kenyatta says that Ksh8.4 billion has been allocated for that purpose.

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