Kenya goes into dusk-to-dawn curfew as contact tracing expands to 1,000

Saturday March 28 2020

A business man peeks out of his shop's door while closing his shop before the beginning of a curfew which was ordered by President Uhuru Kenyatta to contain the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus on March 27, 2020 in Nairobi. PHOTO | SIMON MAINA | AFP


Kenya registered its first Covid-19-related death late Thursday, reported at the Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi. The deceased, a 66-year-old Kenyan male, was being treated for diabetes.

Earlier, the number of infected people had increased to 31 when two more people were reported to have tested positive for the SARs-Cov-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.

On the same day, the country announced that the counties of Nairobi, Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale were hotspots for the spread of the SARs-Cov-2 virus. On Friday, Cabinet Secretary for Health Mutahu Kagwe announced that there were no new cases, but two patients who had tested positive in earlier tests were in intensive care unit.

Wednesday, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced a dusk-to-dawn curfew (7pm-5am), effective Friday, March 26, exempting 13 groups of workers offering essential services.

These include all categories of medical and health workers, national security, food and fuel distributors and retailers and licensed media.

He also unveiled an economic stimulus package, reducing taxes to zero for those earning $240 and below per month, while those earning above that will now only pay 25 per cent Pay As You Earn (PAYE) tax, down from 30 per cent.
"I recognise the anxiety that this pandemic has caused to millions of Kenyan families, fearful of what the future may hold for them and for their children and the possibility of job losses and less income weighing heavily on their minds that why we have decided to cut tax charges," he said.


Traders with business whose annual gross is below $5,000, will now pay only 1 per cent turn over tax, down from 3 per cent. The tax was introduced this January.

To cushion the wider citizenry, VAT on prices of basic commodities such as maize, flour and milk has reduced to 14 per cent, down from 16 per cent.
On a positive note, the government also announced the recovery of a Covid-19 patient.

"Kenya has registered one recovery of the patient who tested positive of Covid-19. This is a clear indication that we can, and we will beat this virus but with this development, we have to put drastic measures to avoid further infection and the National Security Council today approved indefinite curfew effective this Friday," said President Uhuru during an address to the nation.

However, on Friday CS Kagwe said out of a few infected persons, the contact tracing had risen to over 1,000 people because Kenyans were flouting social distancing.

With only a partial lockdown, the county of Mombasa is particularly at risk as thousands of daily commuters at the Likoni ferry fail to maintain social distancing.

The ferry connects Mombasa island with the South Coast, in Kwale county, and onwards to the Kenya-Tanzania border at Lunga-Lunga. There is still free movement of travellers between the two countries.

Public transport around the country has been hit by the social distancing directive, as regulation demands fewer people per vehicle, and vehicle disinfection after every trip. Operators have increased fare contrary to government's directive.