Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta (front) addresses a televised news conference in Nairobi, Kenya, March 15, 2020. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has announced stringent measures to help contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus after two new cases were confirmed on Sunday. Sub-Saharan Africa reported more novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases on Sunday amid stronger countermeasures against the pandemic. (Xinhua)
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta (front) addresses a televised news conference in Nairobi, Kenya, March 15, 2020. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has announced stringent measures to help contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus after two new cases were confirmed on Sunday. Sub-Saharan Africa reported more novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases on Sunday amid stronger countermeasures against the pandemic. (Xinhua)

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Saturday confirmed 126 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total number of infections to 2,600.

Kenyatta who also extended the nationwide curfew period by another 30 days said four people succumbed to the deadly disease, bringing the total number of fatalities to 83.

He said 63 people were discharged from hospitals in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of recoveries to 706.

“We must speak truthfully to each other. The rate of infection in Kenya would have been very high had we not taken the measures we took,” Kenyatta told a televised news conference in Nairobi.

He also relaxed the curfew hours which will now be between 9.00 p.m. to 4.00 a.m. from Sunday.

Citing the advice of the National Security Council, the Kenyatta also extended the cessation of movement into and out of the Nairobi Metropolitan Area, Mombasa and Mandera counties by another 30 days.

He also lifted movements in and out of Kilifi and Kwale counties in the coastal region with effect from Sunday due to the successful containment of the disease in the areas.

The president said the opinion was divided by his team of experts on whether or not to open the economy.

“The irreducible minimum for lifting restrictions has three thresholds. One, to open up, the infections must be contained and the number of infections and deaths must be headed downwards. This is currently not the case in our country,” he said.

He said the COVID-19 situation in Kenya does not meet a list of three thresholds for relaxation as advised by health professionals and public practitioners and thus found it impractical to relax the restrictions currently in force.

The Kenyan leader lifted the cessation of movement into and out of Eastleigh, a residential estate in Nairobi and Old Town in Mombasa from Sunday.

“We must accept that we are not dealing with a right or wrong opinion. We are caught in between two rights. Those who want to open the economy are right and those opposed to opening the economy are also right,” the president said.

He said the country’s healthcare system must be prepared sufficiently to take on a surge in infections.

“It must not be overwhelmed at any one point during this pandemic. Access to testing, isolation and quarantine must be a bare minimum in our health facilities. This is not the case currently,” said the president.

Kenyatta announced that he planned to convene a meeting next week to review the effectiveness of the containment measures.

He said that the meeting that will be attended by all 47 governors will review the preparedness of all county governments to deliver isolation facilities with at least 300 bed capacities and to develop time-bound protocols for progressive re-opening of the economy within 14 days.

“The capacity for surveillance and contact tracing must also be fully in place across the country,” he said.

Kenyatta said the ban on all forms of gatherings – including but not limited to political gatherings, social gatherings and bars – has been extended for a further 30 days.

“Due to the evolving nature of the disease globally, international travel restrictions are hereby extended,” he said.

Kenyatta on Saturday directed the Ministry of Education to facilitate the progressive re-opening of schools from Sept. 1.

He directed the Ministry of Transport to engage all key stakeholders in the aviation industry within seven days and develop protocols to guide the resumption of local air travel.

Kenyatta directed the ministries of interior and health to constitute an inter-faith council and consult within seven days to work out modalities and protocols of re-opening of the places of worship. Enditem

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