Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta extended a nationwide curfew on COVID-19 overnight for 60 days on Friday to combat a third wave of infections in East Africa’s most developed economy.
Kenya, which has so far reported 111,935 positive cases and a total of 1,901 deaths, recorded 829 new infections on Thursday, the highest daily number since December.
In a televised address, Kenyatta said the positive test rate was 13% in March, up from 2% in January.
“Unfortunately it’s still rising,” he said.
Lockdowns and other restrictions to curb coronavirus contagion have curbed revenue and stunted growth in Kenya.
“Last year, dear Kenyans, the Kenyan economy was forecast to grow 6.2%, but only increased 0.6% due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Kenyatta, adding that the economy is expected to recover and it’ll grow by around 1% by 7% in 2021.
“If we hadn’t made the bold (lockdown) decisions of 2020 … our economy would have shrunk 15% in 2021.”
Kenya plans to vaccinate 1.25 million people by June and an additional 9.6 million in the next phase. [nL5N2L31VA]
The Ministry of Health announced this week that the country plans to vaccinate about 15 million people nationwide, about 30% of the country’s population, by the end of June 2023.
“Kenya is at a critical juncture in the fight against and control of the pandemic as prequalified COVID-19 vaccines are being rolled out by the World Health Organization,” Kenyatta said.
Kenya started vaccinating people with the vaccine from Anglo-Swedish drug manufacturer AstraZeneca last week. Kenyatta said the shot “has been tested and our own medical experts believe its safety profile is bankable.”
European regulators have denied isolated reports of blood clots in people who received the AstraZeneca vaccine, but on Friday Thailand, along with a handful of European countries, suspended the use of the shot.
In other new measures to contain the spread of the virus, Kenyatta banned political gatherings for 30 days, placed strict restrictions on attending church services and asked bars and restaurants to close by 9 p.m.