06-06-2020 by Freddie del Curatolo
Just when it seemed almost certain that Kenya was ready to reopen everything, to move on to the so-called "Phase Two", in the last few days the effect of the targeted swabs in the country, of the tight controls at the borders with Uganda and Tanzania on the hauliers who would then continue their journey to Mombasa, with special permits to enter the coastal city that is registering more than a hundred cases every 24 hours.
Although Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe has confirmed that four out of five positives are asymptomatic and that after hospitalization and all the in-depth analysis of the case, they will be sent home (and not to quarantine centers) to continue their "corona time", with possible external assistance, the data and the tight activity of the appropriate hospital facilities advise to use caution again.
This advises the Government not to completely close the period of containment and restrictions that began last March 25 with emergency measures such as curfews from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m., with the closure of skies and airports and the total closure of five counties in the country, into which only residents and those who remained inside can circulate, without leaving and no one (except with special permits) can enter.
Today the terms of the second extension of these restrictions expire, which also concern, among other things, the closure of the beaches on the coast and the large parks and national reserves, as well as the prohibition of the gathering of more than 15 people, which has an effect especially in habitual events and much felt by Kenyans such as weddings and funerals.
Before the last extension, on 16 May, the country had used just under 40 thousand tampons, 830 of which had detected positive patients with a 2.13% infection rate.
From the following day until yesterday, the country recorded 1,510 new cases with 46,333 new tests, and thanks to the targeted swabs, the percentage of infections rose to 3.1%.
We expect for today the official speech of President Uhuru Kenyatta that if until yesterday seemed projected towards the restoration of the main production activities and the reopening of the air borders, with the consequent opening, at least by heaven, of the regions, today seems a little less obvious.
From government circles there is a hint of partial backwardness, but there are twists and turns. During the week, an unofficial document was shot that was timidly denied by the Ministry of Health, and it is still unclear whether it was a total "fake news" or simply a stolen draft, a so-called "leaked document".
This directive announced a small concession to the curfew, which would see the cloistered night time reduced by a few hours, precisely from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. and no longer from 7 a.m. to 5 a.m.. This would allow many clubs, restaurants and others to extend the closing time and serve dinner in addition to lunch, as well as giving the possibility of a take-away service in practically real time for the evening. At the same time, some companies could extend their shifts without being forced to close early to allow their employees to reach their homes without risking being out after hours and risking mandatory arrest and quarantine, which are still the penalties for offenders.
The tourism sector would obviously hope for a total end to the curfew and the reopening of at least the domestic borders, in order to reactivate the hotel facilities and to be able to accommodate travellers, businessmen, families and companies that intend or need to change their place of stay.
The country's desire to restart is clear, the weight of the blocked economy is beginning to be felt on several levels and at every social level the losses of this prolonged stagnation are boulders that will not only need time to be removed, but will leave for some time tangible signs of their presence and the occlusion caused to the growth of the country.
Reopen or not reopen? Partial, total or even other extension of the measures already in place? In a few hours we will know. At least here in Kenya we have a President and a Parliament that take responsibility, put their faces on it and are not afraid to make any errors of assessment. How could a good family man, a head of business or a teacher at school do that? Elsewhere, politicians are too worried about the polls, their electorate and losing consensus on social issues to act and risk bringing nations and economies to collapse with their immobility and their inability to make decisions at the limit, even unpopular ones, motivating them. Kenya on the edge is ready to make mistakes, but in recent months it has shown that it believes in what it is doing for its people.
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