Kenya is set to introduce new restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus as the country experiences a second wave of the virus that appears to be intensifying more rapidly than the first one.
In his daily briefings on Thursday, Mutahi Kagwe, the health cabinet secretary, told Kenyans to expect new restrictions in the coming days, noting that the positivity rate had spiked in the past week.
"In the first wave, the highest positivity rate in July was about 13 percent. On Tuesday, we had a positivity rate of about 20.2 percent; on Wednesday and Thursday, it was 15 percent. This is from a low of a 4 percent average per week in September. Clearly, we have an issue to deal with," Kagwe said.
Kagwe said the balance between keeping the economy running and keeping people safe is creating its own challenges.
He said Kenyans should expect fundamental changes both in case management and behavior that will be announced after the governor's summit with the president scheduled for Nov 4.
Going forward, Kagwe said the key fundamental management center will be home-based care, following the advice from case management teams in the Ministry of Health. This means individuals who are not symptomatic will no longer be admitted to hospitals.
"The experience we have had is that those people being managed at home get well much faster than those who are hospitalized," Kagwe said.
As of Oct 29, Kenya has recorded a total of 52,612 cases of infections and 964 deaths.
On Wednesday, George Magoha, the education cabinet secretary, announced that 33 teachers and 17 students had tested positive for coronavirus following the commencement of phased reopening on Oct 12. Unfortunately, one teacher had succumbed to the virus.
Magoha warned head teachers at schools against reopening other classes apart from the allowed fourth grade and the primary and secondary schools' final-year classes.
He said currently there is no plan to close schools over the surging number of infections unless directed by the Ministry of Health, and he assured parents of the safety of learners.
"Yes, coronavirus is spiking but it's not only in this country. What we are grappling with is whether to reopen for the other children or not. That decision is yet to be made," Magoha said.
The cabinet secretary urged the primary and secondary school final-year students to continue preparing for their national exams which will take place in March 2021 as scheduled.
Magoha said adherence to social distancing was the main challenge toward school resumption of all classes.
According to the initial plan that was halted due to the surge of coronavirus cases, the rest of the learners were to return to schools on Oct 26.
Meanwhile, President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to chair a national and county government coordinating summit on Nov 4.
According to a statement from the State House released on Wednesday, the session will consider the evolution of the coronavirus as well as the epidemiological models of how the disease may propagate within the country over the months of November and December.
The session will also review the efficacy of the containment measures in place, as well as the impact of the easing of the restrictions that were in place.
Kenyatta called on all Kenyans to continue correctly wearing face masks while in public spaces, apply correct hand hygiene at all times, and adhere to physical and social distancing guidelines and protocols.