Kenya blocks entry for non-residents in virus response

Africa now has 25 countries reporting coronavirus cases compared with just nine infections a week ago.

    A worker walks outside the coronavirus isolation facility at the Mbagathi Hospital in Nairobi on Sunday [Njeri Mwangi/Reuters]
    A worker walks outside the coronavirus isolation facility at the Mbagathi Hospital in Nairobi on Sunday [Njeri Mwangi/Reuters]

    Kenya unveiled a series of strict measures to curb coronavirus on Sunday, blocking entry to the country to all except citizens and residents and shutting schools as the number of confirmed cases rose to three.

    Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe announced two people who sat next to the first patient on the aeroplane as she travelled back from the United States via London had tested positive.

    "As a result of this we are going to implement the following measures: Only Kenyan citizens and foreigners with valid resident permits will be allowed to come into the country provided they proceed on self-quarantine or in a government quarantine facility," President Uhuru Kenyatta said.

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    Kenyatta said this would come into effect in the next 48 hours and would remain in place for 14 days.

    Every foreigner who has entered the country in the past 14 days has been ordered to self-quarantine.

    In addition from Monday, all primary and secondary schools are to close, with boarding schools and university to shut by the end of the week. All companies have been urged to allow employees to work from home.

    Kenyatta also said citizens should avoid congregating in places of worship and shopping malls.

    "I want to assure you that my administration is at the forefront of managing this pandemic," he said.

    After being relatively spared from the global pandemic that has killed more than 6,000 and infected nearly 160,000, Africa now has 25 countries reporting cases compared with nine a week ago.

    Pandemic

    Ethiopia, which like Kenya reported its first case on Friday, on Sunday said three contacts of its initial patient had tested positive.

    "The three cases include two Japanese citizens aged 44 and 47, and the other one is Ethiopian aged 42. All of them work in Addis Ababa and had close contact with the first confirmed case," the health ministry said in a Facebook post.

    Ethiopia, Africa's second-most populous nation with more than 100 million people and a key hub into the continent, is one of few countries in the region to not implement measures such as blocking travellers to block the spread.

    Mauritania, Rwanda, Seychelles and Central African Republic confirmed their first coronavirus cases on Saturday. Moving swiftly to contain its spread, Rwanda, Senegal, Madagascar, Mauritius, and Morocco also announced tougher control measures.

    Three days after the World Health Organization (WHO) described the outbreak as a pandemic, there is concern among health specialists about the ability of some African nations to meet the logistical and financial challenges posed by the fast-spreading virus.

    Borders are porous, and many nations have extremely poor health infrastructure. Some countries, like Somalia, are fighting rebellions while others, such as South Sudan, have high levels of malnutrition.

    But governments are implementing preventive steps to try to keep the virus at bay.

    The United Nations said as of Friday, 39 countries had closed schools worldwide, affecting more than 420 million children and young people.

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    SOURCE: News agencies