Kenya

Covid-19: Six counties stare at possible lockdown

Covid-19: Six counties stare at possible lockdown

Summary

  • Kajiado, Nakuru, Uasin Gishu, Bungoma, Machakos, Taita-Taveta and Busia could be locked down should their infection rates continue to rise, with their leaders preparing for the scenario.
  • Uasin Gishu, which has 165 cases, Busia (572) and Bungoma (eight), may also be closed soon.

  • Mt Kenya governors say they may consider lockdowns if coronavirus infections rise.

Several counties are staring at strict coronavirus containment measures barely 10 days after movement restrictions on Nairobi, Mombasa and Mandera were lifted.

Kajiado, Nakuru, Uasin Gishu, Bungoma, Machakos, Taita-Taveta and Busia could be locked down should their infection rates continue to rise, with their leaders preparing for the scenario.

The Council of Governors says it may ask President Uhuru Kenyatta to take action.

“Should the situation get grim, individual county governments will...in consultation with the President, seek to lock down the regions to contain the spread of the virus,” council chairman Wycliffe Oparanya said on Wednesday.

Just last week, Mr Kenyatta said he might reintroduce restrictions “at zero-option”.

CHALLENGE

“The order to reopen is conditional. Should the situation deteriorate and pose a challenge to our health infrastructure, it shall be clawed back,” he said on July 6.

By yesterday, Kajiado had 538 cases. Governor Joseph ole Lenku said coronavirus infections are increasing despite the stringent measures put in place by the county government.

“We are monitoring the situation. We will have an executive meeting next week where our next course of action will be informed by the trend. We cannot rule out a lockdown,” Mr Lenku said.

He added that the region’s 450-bed capacity isolation centres and 20 ICU beds might be stretched if the numbers rise rapidly.

The county, which borders Tanzania to the south – has official entry points in Namanga and Tarakea – but the boundary is generally porous.

The proximity of the county to Nairobi has not helped matters, especially after movement restrictions were lifted.  The Health department says 80 per cent of the infections are recorded in Namanga.

Uasin Gishu, which has 165 cases, Busia (572) and Bungoma (eight), may also be closed soon.

The rising numbers of infections in these counties is blamed on truck drivers and the exodus of Nairobi and Mombasa dwellers to the countryside.

IMPORTED CASES

Uasin Gishu Health executive Evelyn Rotich said the county is ready for any situation.

Bungoma chief health officer Patrick Wandili attributes the rising cases to lorry drivers.

“We cannot say for sure if there will be a lockdown,” he said.

Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony and his Bomet counterpart Hillary Barchok told residents to brace themselves for movement restrictions.

“The increasing numbers are imported from other counties,” Prof Chepkwony said.

Dr Barchok said “careless” residents of other counties are risking the lives of locals.

Nakuru has more than 145 cases but Governor Lee Kinyanjui’s administration says it has no immediate plans to restrict movement.

Mt Kenya governors say they may consider lockdowns if coronavirus infections rise.

Laikipia, Nyeri and Murang’a are on high alert after the easing of restrictions led to increased movement to rural areas.

Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga said the necessary steps would be taken if numbers continue rising.

ANOTHER LOCKDOWN

“We might close our borders to contain the spread of the deadly virus,” he said.

Laikipia Health executive Lenai Kamario said leaders would demand a lockdown and supported the Council of Governors’ stand on the issue.  More than 10 cases have been reported in seven days.

Dr Kamario said cases have rapidly gone up since President Kenyatta reopened the economy.

“We have had 15 confirmed   cases since the announcement,” Dr Kamario said.

Kiambu Govenor James Nyoro ruled out another lockdown. The county is ranked third in the country after Nairobi and Mombasa, having recorded 602 infections.

Dr Nyoro said there should be rational and analytical discussions before deciding to lock down any part of the country.

Kisumu Peter Governor Anyang Nyong’o said it is still too early to talk of locking down counties that record high Covid-19 cases.

He said the discussion should only be initiated when and if counties are overwhelmed, adding that devolved governments are doing their best to manage the situation.

Reporting by Stanley Ngotho, Phyllis Musasia, Onyango K’Onyango, Barnabas Bii, Brian Ojamaa, Mwangi Muiruri, James Murimi, Regina Kinogu, Rushdie Oudia, Benson Amadala, Vitalis Kimuta, Dickens Wasonga and Ian Byron.