Kenya: Govt Deletes Tweet That Ordered 720 Youths Quarantined at Maanzoni Lodge

The Ministry of Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe on Tuesday evening ordered Maanzoni Lodge locked and all the 720 youths who were allegedly holding a meeting quarantined.

Maanzoni Lodge, a meeting and conference facility in Machakos County, had hosted hundreds of youth allegedly in breach of the government order on public gatherings as Kenya battles the spread of coronavirus.

In a tweet shared on the government spokesperson handle @spokespersonGoK, which has since been deleted, CS Kagwe had said all the 720 youth who were found meeting at the facility despite social distancing directive will be force-quarantined for 14 days and tested before being released.

The youths, most drawn from informal settlements in the capital Nairobi, are believed to have arrived at the lodge on Sunday and spent Monday in training.

But in a statement, a company by the name Samasource claimed those who were detained at Maanzoni Lodge were its employees. The statement added that the company had received approval from the Ministry of Health to accommodate its staff in the home-away-from-home work-space.

"Maanzoni Lodge has been inspected by the county ministry of health and stated that the facility passed all health requirements," said Faith Nbutu, Samasource HR senior director.

According to Ms Ndutu, the company had announced the rollout of its work from home equivalent programme, admitting 820 employees in different facilities in Machakos county in response to work from home guidance issued by the Kenyan government amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Earlier on Tuesday, a standoff ensued at the facility on Tuesday morning as police and the hotel management faced off over the presence of the hundreds of youths.

Police questioned the managing director Chris Musau and two youth who organised the event, according to Athi River Sub-county Police Commander Catherine Ringera.

But through its lawyers, the lodge held that it did not err in hosting the youth.

In the aftermath, a manager and the leader of the group were arrested for flouting the directive from the Ministry of Health that had banned all public gatherings over the Covid-19 pandemic.

The two were arraigned at Mavoko Law Courts and charged with facilitating an unlawful assembly of the youth and contravening the government's directives and order of holding public meetings and assemblies over the Covid-19 threat.

They spent the night at Athi River police station.

Kenya has as at Tuesday, March 31, reported 59 cases of the virus, which has claimed the life of a 66-year-old patient, who had a pre-existing condition.

The Ministry of Health Monday projected a significant rise in the number of coronavirus cases to 10,000 by April 30 if Kenya does not rapid measures.

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