Kenyan health workers dressed in protective suits walk after disinfecting the residence where Kenya's first confirmed coronavirus patient was staying, in the town of Rongai near Nairobi, Kenya March 14, 2020. (Photo: Agencies)
Uhuru Kenyatta, the president of Kenya, urged Kenyans on Monday to take the example of the victory over colonizers in the fight against coronavirus that has so far infected 1,962 and killed 64 in the East African country.
Kenyatta, who spoke during Madaraka Day state address to commemorate 57 years since Kenya attained independent self-governance, called on Kenyans to embrace a spirit similar to the founding fathers who fought until they attained self-rule.
"As we fight the coronavirus pandemic today, our victory over the colonizers should remind us that…this too shall pass."
"Although slowed down by the health crisis and the economic downturn caused by coronavirus, I am further comforted by the teachings of our founding fathers. They instructed us to be '…our very best at our darkest moment'. They taught us not to question in the dark, the dreams we dreamt in the light," Kenyatta said.
Kenyatta said the government will continue to progressively roll out targeted measures to sustain livelihoods and cushion Kenyan households against the economic shocks triggered by the pandemic.
"We have reduced taxes to enhance affordability of all products by reducing Value Added Tax from 16 to 14 percent, and increased the earnings and purchasing power of all employees by reducing Pay as You Earn, and also incentivized businesses to retain staff and operations by reducing Corporation Tax," Kenyatta said.
To jumpstart the tourism sector as well as protect its players from heavy financial losses, Kenyatta said his administration will refocus its intervention by offering an initial $18.7 million exchequer support to hotels and related establishments to ensure they maintain their staff.
The tourism sector has suffered some of the most severe shocks due to restricted movement, termination of international flights and the introduction of social distancing protocols.
Following anxiety over schools reopening, Kenyatta directed the Ministry of Education to fast-track and finalize ongoing consultations with stakeholders to provide an appropriate calendar for the gradual resumption of education in the country.
"The guidelines should also include protocols to be followed by all learning institutions to guarantee the safety of our children," he said.
The president also directed the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Health to continue and hasten engagement with religious leaders, with the objective of developing protocols that will be adopted to guide a more participatory way of worship while guaranteeing the safety of worshipers.
Similar to his appreciation of efforts made by the founders of the nation, Kenyatta issued an executive order establishing a new national award and state commendation – The Presidential Order of Service – Uzalendo Award.
The award is aimed at recognizing and honoring Kenyans who have exhibited exemplary service, sacrifice, patriotism, heroism and high sense of civic duty in helping steer Kenya through the coronavirus pandemic.
Kenyatta is expected to give more directives on the measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus on June 6, when the 21-day movement restrictions in and out of main infected areas end. The areas include the capital Nairobi, the port city of Mombasa and the counties of Kilifi and Kwale.
Among the issues the president is expected to highlight is the ongoing nationwide curfew, whether to lift travel bans in and out of the areas, whether to lift the flight ban and the reopening of schools.