Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday announced stringent measures effective midnight to help curb the spread of COVID-19 that had escalated since the onset of the third wave in March.

Kenyatta said during a televised address to the nation that the capital Nairobi and four other counties of Kajiado, Machakos, Kiambu and Nakuru deemed as the virus hotspots will be placed under lockdown from Friday midnight.

“There shall be cessation of all movement by road or rail, or air into and out of the disease infected areas as one zoned area comprising the counties of Nairobi, Kajiado, Machakos, Kiambu and Nakuru effective midnight tonight,” Kenyatta said.

He said the five counties that account for 70 percent of the reported COVID-19 cases countrywide, will be placed under lockdown until the current third wave of infection has eased.

Curfew hours in the five counties will begin from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. while all in-person gatherings including religious worship had been suspended.

He suspended the on-going physical learning in universities, colleges and vocational training institutions with the exemption of candidates sitting for final examinations and those in medical training institutions.

The Kenyan leader also announced suspension of sporting and recreational activities in the five counties bearing the brunt of COVID-19 infections, adding that sale of alcohol in restaurants and eateries had been banned while bars would cease operations.

He clarified that operations of bars, eateries and restaurants in the other 42 counties will continue so long as they adhere to public health measures aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus. Public service vehicles were required to maintain a 60 percent carrying capacity, while state officials will ensure that open air markets installed sanitation booths as part of COVID-19 containment.

International travel into and out of the Kenyan territory shall, however, continue in accordance with the existing guidelines on foreign/international travel.

The president said that all persons coming into the country must be in possession of a negative COVID-19 PCR certificate, acquired no more than 96 hours prior to arrival into the country; with the PCR certificate also having been validated under the trusted travel platform for those travelling by air.

“All employees and enterprises of whatever nature including public bodies, the private sector, government offices are directed to allow employees to work from home, with the exception of employees working in critical or essential services that cannot be delivered remotely,” said Kenyatta.

Also, no more than 15 persons will be allowed to attend a social gathering while internment of the dead will be carried out within 72 hours and only 50 people will have access to the graveside. Attendees to weddings and traditional ceremonies like rites of passage will be limited to 30 persons.

He said the government will strictly enforce the revised and tougher COVID-19 containment measures as the third wave had picked momentum in the country and threatened to overrun public health systems.

“This wave is expected to peak in the next 30 days with more than 2,500 to 3,000 cases reported daily. Based on experience, this peak will flatten only by mid-May 2021, which is about 60 days from now,” said Kenyatta.

xinhua