Mining activities in Kakamega County have been banned to tame the spread of coronavirus in the region.
The devolved unit has confirmed one coronavirus case, according to the Ministry of Health.
Deputy Governor Philip Kutima ordered the gold mines in Ikolomani Sub-County and Lurambi at Rosterman closed with immediate effect, with miners directed to stay home.
He directed security personnel to enforce total closure of the mines and to ensure the sites are guarded to bar prospectors from sneaking back.
Prof Kutima reckons the mines are likely to spread the virus fast should a single person, either a miner or gold buyer, get infected.
"We decided to shut down the mines because they attract people from different parts of the world, including Chinese and other foreigners. There was a likelihood of infection of Covid-19 disease in the mines and the only option was to close them down," he said.
A section of residents from Lurambi and Ikolomani sub-counties have been operating unlicensed mining businesses since the 1950s and rely on them as their economic mainstay.
"It is better we suffer for a short while than expose ourselves to the danger of coronavirus and perish. They will resume their normal mining activities once everything returns to order," the deputy governor said during a weekly update of the Covid-19 situation in the county.
"We wish to bring to the knowledge of the general public that the three officers who had visited Italy plus five others who were from overseas countries and were put under house quarantine two weeks ago have tested negative of the coronavirus. We commend the officers for their cooperation," said Prof Kutima.
Twenty people who are suspected to have interacted with a coronavirus patient in Kakamega County have been put under quarantine to tame the spread of the disease.