On Monday at about 9.30 p.m. in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, the few motorists on the road rushed to leave the city as the curfew had started 30 minutes before.
The restriction has been in force since March, with President Uhuru Kenyatta extending it on Aug. 26 for another 30 days even as COVID-19 infection cases have been declining.
The containment measure was put in place to restrict movement and socialization of people at night, a time when many may not observe social distance and wearing face masks.
Initially, police would mount roadblocks on different roads across the city to enforce the curfew.
The barricades have, however, been removed with police officers staying off the roads.
But a majority of Kenyans have not dropped the ball even as COVID-19 infection cases plunge in the east African nation.
Citizens are still observing the curfew time and other COVID-19 containment measures with diligence as a spot-check showed on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
The government declared on Monday that the east African nation is flattening the COVID-19 curve, with President Uhuru Kenyatta, however, cautioning that citizens must remain vigilant.
“We have done remarkably well; the curve has begun to flatten but it is not time to rejoice yet. All our models predicted severe scenarios that didn’t happen. It is because of the measures we put in place, but there are things we must do better,” he said.
Kenya on Tuesday recorded 114 COVID-19 infection cases, one of the lowest in recent weeks.
On Monday, the country recorded 144 new cases and on Sunday some 263 people tested positive, the trend having been recorded in the last two weeks.
Shopkeepers, motorists, supermarkets, public transport vehicle operators and motorbike riders are among those who rush to beat the curfew hour.
From the central business district to the residential estates, the 9 p.m. curfew hour finds millions of businesses closed and citizens in their houses.
At Nairobi West, one of the residential areas in the city with a vibrant nightlife, the shops were closed on Monday as has been the rest of the days since the outbreak of COVID-19.
The situation was no different in the populous areas of the east of the capital and on Mombasa Road in the south.
But it’s not only the curfew that Kenyans are still adhering to, citizens are equally wearing face masks, washing hands, maintaining social distance and those who can are working from home.
“The government said we should carry fewer passengers to maintain social distance, we will obey that,” said Moses Karimi, a conductor with Rembo Shuttle which plies the Nairobi-Kitengela route.
Like many other operators across the city, he does not allow commuters who do not have masks to get into the vehicle, or does he carry more passengers.
And so are banks, supermarkets, hospitals and business complexes where each and every person getting in must have their temperatures checked and their hands sanitized.
“I will only remove my hand sanitation point from the front of my shop when a lasting solution on COVID-19 is found,” vowed shopkeeper Margaret Anyango.
Meanwhile, Rashid Aman, the chief administrative secretary in the Ministry of Health, said on Tuesday that medics are grappling with contact tracing in specific regions in the country.
Aman said that with the disease active in the community, Kenyans must continue to adhere to the containment measures that include sanitizing hands and wearing facemasks if the country is to keep the infections low.
He said that medical personnel have in the recent past been going through a challenge in tracing people who had come in contact with those who have so far tested positive to the pandemic.
“Let’s stop thinking that we are out of the woods. We need to take some time before concluding that we are doing better,” he added.
The official said that Kenya has to navigate the current situation before confirming that the curve has been finally flattened, noting that the current low COVID-19 positive figures should not be construed to mean that all is well in the country.
The official told Kenyans to adhere to the measures that were put in place with the government and wear masks, keep distance and wash hands regularly.
So far the total number of confirmed cases increased to 34,315 while 20,211 patients have recovered since the pandemic was first reported in Kenya in mid-March.
Aman said there was no death recorded between Monday and Tuesday as the number of fatalities remains at 577.