Kenya: Counties to Waive Cess Levies on Food Items as Cases of COVID-19 Rise

The number of coronavirus cases rose to 50 yesterday as the 47 county governments agreed to waive cess levies on all food items.

Both levels of government resolved to facilitate the efficient movement of food, guarantee affordability of food items, essential household goods and critical supplies as the country combats the Covid-19 pandemic.

As a sign that the effects of the virus are slowly becoming more pronounced, Health CS Mutahi Kagwe further pleaded with city residents to suspend travels to upcountry destinations to save senior citizens from the risk of the virus, whose rate of infections is about to hit a million mark in the world.

MASS TESTING

The government has started mass testing for 2,050 individuals who are in mandatory quarantine in various hotels and State facilities. Out of the analysed 84 samples, one person tested positive.

Mr Mutahi said the government has tested an additional 88 samples of close contacts of the 42 cases that had been confirmed by last Sunday, and seven patients tested positive.

"Tracing of contacts of the 50 confirmed cases is ongoing. The total number of close contacts stands at 1, 474. Out of this, 231 have been discharged after completing the mandatory 14-day follow-up period," he said, adding that the team is monitoring 1, 211 close contacts.

Kitui has joined the league of counties that have reported positive cases with one confirmed case. Nairobi reported six additional cases, bringing the total in the capital to 34.

Mombasa has one new case, bringing the total to three, while Kajiado and Kwale have one each. The CS insisted that personal responsibility remains key if the war on the pandemic is to be won, declaring that the virus is now being spread through community transmission.

COMMUNITY TRANSMISSION

"Community transmission means the disease is no longer being imported from outside, but it is here with us. We are now spreading it among ourselves and we must raise the level of alert and intervention measures," said the CS.

He has also directed all boda-boda riders to wear protective masks as they go about their duties, adding that they will be required to carry only one passenger. "Each rider is now required to wear a protective mask. The same rule applies to the passenger.

"The government is also encouraging people who stay in Nairobi against travelling upcountry. Statistics have shown that the majority of our elderly people live upcountry and they are likely to be exposed as it happened in Italy."

The decision to waive the levies was agreed during a consultative meeting between the National Development Implementation and Communication Cabinet Committee and the Executive Committee of the Council of Governors (CoG).

MASS PRODUCTION

The meeting was co-chaired by Interior CS Fred Matiang'i and CoG chair Wycliffe Oparanya.

It further resolved that both levels of government will support the ongoing engagement of local industry in mass production of Personal Protective Equipment.

The parties agreed on immediate implementation of the protocols for the management of food supply chains, markets, enhanced transport logistics, augmentation of sanitation and the operation of county health facilities.

"Governors shall explore inter-county structures that will provide quarantine facilities if needed," the communique, signed by the two leaders said.

The State promised to support counties' efforts towards protecting vulnerable economic sectors, such as transport and informal artisans by supplying CoG with 10,000 bottles of hand sanitisers every Friday.

The leaders asked the Treasury to fast-track the distribution of resources to support the hiring of additional health workers.

Meanwhile, President Uhuru Kenyatta has ordered the Treasury to set up a Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund.

In a strategic step to rope in the corporate and business world in raising funds for the emergency effort, the President appointed a board headed by Kenya Breweries Managing Director Jane Karuku to manage the fund.

Additional reporting by Aggrey Omboki

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