NAIROBI – Kenya has placed restrictions on gatherings and a curfew in the country’s western Lake Basin region after a surge in coronavirus infections. Kenya’s Ministry of Health declared 13 counties a hotspot zone, with 60% of the country’s new infections and more than twice the average positivity rate.
Evans Ndamwe is a businessman who lives in Bungoma County, one of 13 counties where the Kenyan government has introduced new restrictions to fight the spread of the coronavirus.
Ndamwe saw the police shut down the local market, affecting his business.
âToday, Friday, it was market day and the police scattered all the traders and that also affected my business. I didn’t sell anything, “said Ndamwe.
Kenya reintroduces COVID-19 restrictions
The capital and surrounding counties will be locked after the COVID-19 positivity rate climbs to 22 percent in two months
Security officials enforced government policies prohibiting public gatherings in 13 counties.
The Ministry of Health announced on Thursday that 60 percent of Kenya’s new infections had occurred in western counties.
It was the first time the government imposed such restrictions in areas far from Nairobi.
The positivity rate in the western counties is 21 percent, 12 percent more than the national average.
To curb the spread of the virus, the ministry introduced a curfew from 7 p.m. to 4 a.m. and banned public gatherings and non-food markets for 30 days.
Leunora Odinga is a resident of Kisumu who has lost some relatives to COVID-19. She says the hospitals in her county are overcrowded with people seeking treatment.
âThe state of health is bad here. They have no medical equipment, they have no material that people suffer from, “Odinga said. The hospitals are jammed. People are suffering a lot.
Odinga says the virus affected her state of mind.
âI’m traumatized,â said Odinga. “Some of my relatives visit me and if you lose a relative you are also traumatized and if you are so close to them you could be infected because this virus is hidden and you just find it, you are infected too. I am seriously concerned. I can’t even communicate freely with my relatives. “
The current surge in infections in the western region is partly attributed to the national Independence Day event held in Kisumu County in early June. Thousands of people ran after politicians.
The county’s health minister Boaz Otieno says officials are doing everything they can to improve health facilities.
“We have mobilized health workers from less congested, less-used facilities to the main facilities,” Otieno said. “We’ve increased our oxygen capacity as much as possible and then stepped-up testing is part of this facility, but the earlier the test is done, the better for the bottom line.”
As of March 2020, Kenya has recorded 176,000 coronavirus cases and more than 3,400 deaths.