By: Kimathi Nduru @MountKenyaTimes
- “The curve is looking good and continues to bend downwards whereby at present the positivity rate is hovering at 7 per cent compared to percentage highs in the late teens and twenties during the peak of the current fourth wave driven by the Delta variant,” Dr Ahmed Kalebi, a consultant pathologist based in Nairobi, explained.
- “Even Saudi Arabia has fully opened pilgrimage to full capacity. There is no reason why we can’t have sports and other social events opened up, yet we have immunity from past infections and vaccines,” Dr Kalebi added.
- Kenya’s economy, like others, has been hit by the pandemic, as restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus reduced revenues and stifled growth.
- Economic output contracted for the first time in nearly three decades last year, pummeled by the impact of the coronavirus crisis on key sectors like tourism.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has lifted the nationwide curfew that has been in force for over a year and a half now.
Addressing the nation yesterday during the 58th Mashujaa Day celebrations at the Wang’uru Stadium in Kirinyaga County, Kenyatta made the announcement as crowds responded with cheer.
“With the authority vested in me as President, I hereby order that the nationwide curfew that has been in effect, is hereby vacated with immediate effect,” he said.
The curfew with has been in place since March 2020, was put in place by the government as one of the measures to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Kenyatta, however, cautioned the country is not yet out of the woods and appealed to Kenyans to continue to observe the Ministry of Health containment measures.
Kenya has met a majority of indicators used to downgrade restrictions in line with World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines, including ICU admissions, positivity rate and deaths.
The WHO recommends that restrictions can be eased if the positivity rate —the proportion of tests coming back positive — remains below five percent for at least two weeks.
The Head of State, however, was mum on whether lifting the curfew meant that bars could operate.
However, Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala issued clarification hours later saying the 7pm closure time that was imposed on bars and clubs has been lifted.
The President’s move to life the curfew follows appeals from stakeholders in Kenya’s business community as well as lobbying from churches to lift restrictions and allow more congregants to gather.
On Tuesday, Pubs, Entertainment and Restaurants Association of Kenya (PERAK) had urged the president to lift the curfew.
Michael Muthami, Perak National Chairman addressing press decried that the curfew had ravaged their businesses– forcing bar and restaurants to shut as those still in business shed jobs.
Kenyans have been piling pressure on government, through social media platforms, to lift the curfew to inject fresh impetus to the struggling economy.
“The curve is looking good and continues to bend downwards whereby at present the positivity rate is hovering at 7 per cent compared to percentage highs in the late teens and twenties during the peak of the current fourth wave driven by the Delta variant,” Dr Ahmed Kalebi, a consultant pathologist based in Nairobi, explained.
“Even Saudi Arabia has fully opened pilgrimage to full capacity. There is no reason why we can’t have sports and other social events opened up, yet we have immunity from past infections and vaccines,” Dr Kalebi added.
Kenya’s economy, like others, has been hit by the pandemic, as restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus reduced revenues and stifled growth.
Economic output contracted for the first time in nearly three decades last year, pummeled by the impact of the coronavirus crisis on key sectors like tourism.
The 2021 economic survey released by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) revealed that the measures had a detrimental effect on the country’s economy
KNBS noted that the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) missed out about Sh6.3 billion in excise revenues, with excise revenue levied on beer, wines, and spirits falling by 19 percent to Sh34.8 billion from Sh41.4 billion in 2019.
The curfew, which has been in place since March 2020, was put in place by the government as one of the measures to curb the spread of Covid-19.
President Kenyatta also directed in-person church gathering reviewed upwards from one-third to two-thirds of the capacity.
“Given the progress in containing this disease, the committee jointly with the interfaith council has recommended a review of the existing containment measures, according the number of persons gathering for in person worship, is now reviewed upwards from one third of congregants to two thirds as long as they adhere to all the health’s protocols,” said Kenyatta.
According to Ministry of Health data, as of Tuesday, the country recorded 110 new infections, with a positivity rate of 2.0 per cent.
Kenya has established a new company to start vaccine production in Nairobi’s Embakasi area by Easter next year.
President Uhuru Kenyatta said the company will be known as the Kenya Biovax Limited.
“The Ministry of health should operationalise this company to eventually manufacture vaccines in our country by Easter next year,” he said.
He said the pandemic had exposed the lack of manufacturing facilities both in Kenya and other African countries.
The facility is expected to be a fill-and-finish factory ahead of the country setting up a full-scale manufacturing plant to guarantee supply.
Such fill-and-finish facilities allow third parties to construct ready-made vaccines into vials, package them for sale.
Sh8bn budget for schools
President Kenyatta has directed the allocation of Sh8 billion to support construction of 10,000 additional classrooms to support a double transition of an estimated 2.5 learners to secondary schools.
The move is aimed at ensuring a seamless transition for an estimated 1 million students set to join junior secondary school and 1.4 million Class 8 leavers set to join secondary schools.
The directive for additional funding is in anticipation for a double transition in 2023, when the last cohort of the 8-4-4 system transits to Form One and the CBC pioneers join Junior Secondary School (Grade 7, 8 and 9).
“To ensure we adequately prepare the nation for the next phase of Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) which is the junior high school and to further facilitate the 100 percent transition of Primary to Secondary school. The Ministries of Education, Interior Coordination and Treasury should jointly create a framework for building of 10,000 classrooms needed to provide additional learning space,” President Kenyatta ordered.
Uhuru vows to protect territories
President Kenyatta has pledged to continue protecting Kenya’s territorial integrity in the wake of a ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in regard to the maritime boundary dispute with Somalia.
Addressing the nation yesterday, the head of state sent a veiled but firm warning that Kenya would not cede an inch of its territory to anyone and for any reason.
“On many occasions, we have experienced territorial aggressions to the sanctity of our borders. Some have been driven from within and others from without. But the message of our founding fathers to these aggressors was simple: ‘Not an inch less, not an inch more.”
“And this is the message that must reverberate across the collective quarters that are bent on annexing any part of the territory known as the Republic of Kenya,” the President declared.
President Kenyatta said his government was duty-bound to hand over to the next generation the country as it was handed over to him and would not cede an inch of its territory.
“The resolve of our founding fathers rings as true today, as it did then. And we as Kenyans say this because we are a nation content with our country’s bounty and also content with the splendour within our borders,” the President said.