NAIROBI – Kenya reimposed COVID-19 restrictions after the country’s positivity rate this week jumped to 22 percent, a 20 percent increase since January.
Addressing the nation Friday, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta put the capital, Nairobi, and surrounding counties under lockdown.
“Seventy percent of Kenya’s reported cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in the counties of Nairobi, Kajiado, Machakos, Kiambu and Nakuru,” he said. “These counties are individually and collectively declared a disease-infected area. That there shall be a cessation of all movement by road, rail or air into and out of the disease-infected areas as one zoned area.”
Nairobi is leading in coronavirus cases, with six in 10 people testing positive.
Kenyatta said it’s crucial to control the movement of people in and out of those five counties.
“If you test 100 Kenyans for COVID, 20 would be positive, this compared to January this year when only two would have been positive and this tells us that our rate of infection has gone up 10 times between January and March of 2021,” he said.
Kenya has also banned public gatherings, reduced curfew hours, and ordered bars to close.
Simon Njoroge, chairman of the Kenya Bars and Hotels Association, says only vaccination can save the country from frequent shutdowns.
“We don’t want to comment so much on the directive of today … but as a chair, I would like to tell the government that ‘yes there is COVID-19 and the directives have been followed,’ but I wish the government would have come and give vaccination(s) to our staff,” he said.
In early March, Kenya received 1.1 million vaccine doses, and about 50,000 people have received the jabs.
Kenya has recorded 125,000 coronavirus cases and 2,100 deaths. Authorities say the latest measures will remain in effect until further notice.