Kenya extends coronavirus curfew as cases rise outside capital

GEORGE OBULUTSA and AYENAT MERSIE

KENYA’S president has extended a nationwide curfew for another 30 days, saying coronavirus cases were rising in areas outside the capital.

In a televised address, Uhuru Kenyatta also ordered bars and nightclubs shut for another 30 days – but increased the number of people allowed to attend weddings, funerals and other events.

He said infections were slowing in Nairobi and the port and tourism hub of Mombasa.

“This crisis has however began to percolate to the counties. The new frontier of this invisible enemy is increasingly shifting to the counties and to our rural areas,” he said.

At present Kenya has 33,016 cases of the novel coronavirus, 564 deaths and 19,296 recoveries, Kenyatta said.

The outbreak has hit the economy, with the finance ministry projecting growth will slow to 2.5% this year from 5.4% last year.

Kenyatta said the economy had so far performed better than expected during the period, citing performance in the horticulture sector, whose earnings rose to 81 billion Kenyan shillings ($748 million) in January to June from 76 billion shillings in the same time a year ago.

“Even under COVID, our economy is growing at 4.6% compared to 5.5% at the same time last year,” he said without specifying the period he was referring to.

“The current economic indicators without doubt are lower- but definitely far better than we ever anticipated.”

He said he had asked investigative agencies to conclude within 21 days investigations into reports of impropriety at the state-run Kenya Medical Supplies Agency.

The head of the agency has been suspended over allegations the agency procured low quality protective gear for use by healthcare workers handling COVID-19 cases, and inflated prices of others.

“I want to once again reiterate that all persons found to be…culpable as a result of those ongoing investigations should be brought to book notwithstanding their public office or their political or for that matter their social status,” Kenyatta said. – Thomson Reuters Foundation.