Kenya: Bars to Close at 7.30pm to Help Tame Spread of Coronavirus

Second hand clothes on display at a stall in Toi Market in Nairobi.

Nairobi — Kenya Friday announced new tough measures aimed at combating coronavirus as health officials work to contain the pandemic with seven cases so far confirmed.

The new measures include restricting operational time for entertainment joints which will close at 7.30pm effective Monday, March 23.

Such facilities, the health ministry said, must also define the maximum number of people at any given time, so that the requirement of 1.5 meters self-distancing requirement is met.

Hundreds of people had been tested after showing symptoms similar to the virus, but turned negative, while dozens more still in isolation, according to the country's Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe.

Kagwe said cooperation by Kenyans in the second week will determine whether the current crisis will go "full-blown," even as he announced additional steps that will see the health ministry embark on random testing of members of the public on Saturday, March 21.

"If there is a moment in our country's history where we need to embrace the Harambee spirit, it is today, it is now. Our actions this week, in particular, will determine whether we shall go into a full-blown crisis, with grave human and economic consequences or whether we shall limit the adverse impact of this disease, save lives and reduce the impact into our economy," the CS asserted.

Supermarkets were also urged to operate for 24 hours so that more people can have enough time to shop. They are however required to put in place Queue Management Systems and guard against overcrowding by limiting the number of shoppers at any given time.

"Where requested, the government shall provide security," the CS said.

Kagwe said shopping should be done by one person in family while supermarket managers are required to give consideration to people with special needs.

Kenya is monitoring a dozen other cases being monitored at an isolation centre in Nairobi's Mbagathi Hospital.

Many more were discharged after results turned negative.

On Wednesday, top Health Ministry officials held a video conference with their Chinese counterparts who shared vital lessons on how to tame the spread of the virus.

The Health CS reiterated that all foreigners including diplomats must self-quarantine on arrival in the country.

Kenyan authorities have since introduced self-quarantine legal forms for all people coming into the country, to ensure they commit to implement it or risk facing the law.

On Thursday, authorities arrested a man at a city hotel, after a partying spree despite having arrived in the country from abroad.

He was forcefully isolated at Mbagathi Hospital pending the outcome of tests to confirm his status. CS Kagwe warned a similar fate will befall anyone defying his directive.

"We will keep the gentleman at the isolation by force. It is very irresponsible for a person to know that they could have been exposed (to the virus) and then they go dancing in the clubs," the CS said.

"If we disciplined enough to fall what the government is saying, then we will contain this transmission," he noted, and, "behave well, we are going to avoid the kind of scenarios we are seeing in other parts of the country."

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