‘We are at war’: Kenya halts movement to areas worst hit by coronavirus

Photo: Credit Reuters

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday ordered new restrictions to parts of the country affected by the novel coronavirus, including the capital Nairobi, a tightening of measures to stem the growing spread of the outbreak.

The order bars entry and exits in four regions of the country most affected by cases of COVID-19 that, in addition to Nairobi, include the port city of Mombasa and the counties of Kilifi and Kwale.

“The cessation of movement within the Nairobi metropolitan area shall be for an initial containment period of 21 days with effect from 7 p.m. Monday the 6th of April 2020, that is today,” Kenyatta said in a televised address. African countries, while slow at first to be hit by the virus, have seen confirmed cases of COVID-19 increase over the last month to thousands of infections and hundreds of deaths.

South Africa, Rwanda and Uganda are among countries on the continent that had introduced strict measures limiting their people’s movements, part of attempts to slow the spread of the virus. On Sunday, Madagascar extended containment orders for the capital Antananarivo and Toamasina for 15 days. The measures in the Indian Ocean Island had suspended all public transport, imposed a daily curfew and closed government offices in the two cities.

Kenya, which has reported 158 coronavirus cases and six deaths, had already limited flights in and out of the country. On Monday, Kenyatta also ordered Kenyans to wear masks while in public.

“This virus is unforgiving and its rate of growth, if not arrested, is exponential,” he said. A majority of the cases of COVID-19 in East Africa’s richest economy are residents of Nairobi and Kenya’s coastal strip, Kenyatta said, and the restrictions placed on the four regions was driven by a desire to limit the virus from spreading to other parts of the country.

“There shall be cessation of all movement by road, rail or air in and out of…the Nairobi metropolitan areas and…the counties of Kilifi, Kwale and Mombasa,” he said. Movement of food supplies and other cargo will continue as normal, Kenyatta said.

The measures imposed on Monday added to the restrictions already put in place last month, including the daily nightly dusk-till-dawn curfew for the entire country.

“We are at war and we must win,” Kenyatta said.

“We must make a stand here, before COVID-19 starts to spread out of control, and we must be ready to go even further if necessary,” he added.

Source: Reuters