WE SHALL OVERCOME: STATEMENT ON COVID-19 PANDEMIC
I address you at a time like no other time in our memory. This year’s Easter is
going to be drastically different in many significant ways, but its message remains
the same. After the trials, sorrow and gloom that comes with the crucifixion of
Christ on Friday, there is assured hope that rises with His resurrection on Sunday.
Our current situation has brought us its share of tribulation and heartbreak, but
what a better time for us to consider our blessed hope in Almighty God for the
assured victory ahead!
We are in a new place, confronting a situation that is wholly unprecedented in
our time. We have never been here before. Our children are all out of school. The
favourite matatu and bodaboda rider, reliable mama mboga, that dependable
barber or salonist are all facing serious challenges. Our airline industry is
Hotels have shut their doors. We can no longer attend places of worship as we
always did. This is phenomenal. And the cause of all this is the novel coronavirus,
a minute fragment of inert genetic code.
Fortunately for us, defeating this virus, which has occasioned so much suffering,
mayhem and disruption on a scale never witnessed in recent history does not
require the nuclear bomb, mighty armies, or fighter jets. Simple behavioural and
hygiene measures ; avoiding handshakes, washing hands with soap, sanitising,
wearing masks, social distancing, staying at home simple as they seem guarantee
us a decisive knockout blow against the virus.
The fight against coronavirus is a paradox. While on the one hand, we have a deadly virus that threatens to wipe out people and disrupt the world on a scale never before experienced, defeating it completely on the other hand takes such basic measures and elementary precautions.
We must not be confused by the simplicity of washing hands, social distancing and
staying home to underestimate the deadly, dangerous and destructive coronavirus.
Let us remember that the coronavirus cannot move, or multiply by itself. It desperately needs our bodies for mobility , for transport from one victim to another, and from one locality to another. Curtailing our movements will completely immobilise this enemy and stop its spread.
This is why we urge those who can work from home to do so while those who must work in factories, offices, business spaces and such other areas to meticulously exercise social distancing. Employers should adopt a shift system that enable staff to work at different times of day, or on different days to minimise congestion in work places. And unless it is absolutely necessary with compelling and extraordinary reasons, we should stay at home.
This is also the case for the restriction of movement into and out of Nairobi, Kwale, Kilifi and Mombasa counties where the highest incidence of Covid-19 have been reported.
These simple steps: avoiding handshakes and unnecessary contact with bodies and
surfaces, regularly washing hands with soap, sanitising, keeping a safe social distance, wearing masks, avoiding unnecessary movement and staying at home, are the most effective arsenal against the deadly Coronavirus and will be part of how we live and relate for the foreseeable future.
As Government, we appreciate and commend the millions of Kenyans who have taken these directions seriously and are conscientiously complying with the protocols as issued and updated by our Health Ministry.
Those not committed to these measures should know that they are putting their own lives, those of their families, friends and millions of other Kenya at death risk.
This kind of reckless negligence is unacceptable.
To protect ourselves, every Kenyan should go the extra mile, and perform the
patriotic duty of ensuring that their families, friends, workmates and
neighbours adhere to these protocols. We must not negotiate our safety and
survival. Let us be our brothers keeper.
Many Kenyans are asking us, “While government is telling us what to do, what is
government doing about the Covid-19 pandemic?”
President Kenyatta has taken personal charge of this situation and mobilised
government at both levels, together with development partners, the private sector
and friends of Kenya to accomplish a number of objectives.
a) Our first key task is to assemble and provide a body of accurate and verifiable
information to the public and to work with all partners on its dissemination so as to
empower citizens to take the right decisions and make the correct
choices. Information on the nature, threat and remedies of the novel Coronavirus
and Covid-19 at this point in time is the foremost duty of the government, given
that citizen behaviour and action is at the heart of defeating this epidermic.
Success stories around the world indicate strongly that effective management of
Covid-19 is attributable to availability of accurate information and efficient public
uptake, use and response.
b) In preparation for the possible escalation of numbers of Covid-19 cases from the
hundreds into the thousands, the government has designated and equipped different
hospital facilities, which include the 600-bed capacity Kenyatta University
Teaching, Referral and Research Hospital in Nairobi while every County has been
tasked to do the same with their health facilities. Further, we have directed the
Ministry of Education to work with counties to identify boarding schools that can
be used as isolation facilities for Covid-19 cases.
c) The government is working with counties through KEMSA to stockpile medical
supplies necessary for management of cases of Covid-19 in diagnosed persons
while the public services commission is undertaking recruitment of additional
health personnel, including 1000 doctors to be advertised this week, so as to build
adequate capacity to manage increased numbers of coved-19 victims.
d) The statistics released by the Ministry of Health on the number of persons
infected so far has come mainly from the testing of persons in quarantine and their
known contacts. The testing process at the moment is slow and Limited. We are
working with the World Health Organization and Africa center for disease control
on the approval of rapid diagnostic kits produced by international and local
institutions including KEMRI to scale up our testing.
Once approved, these diagnostic kits will enable the government to carry out mass
testing of Kenyans which is necessary to capture all those infected by the virus for
isolation ,containment and management. This exercise is critical for us to
adequately and comprehensively respond and manage this pandemic.
e) We are working with international partners including the World Bank and the
private sector on the acquisition of additional ventilators, sanitisers and masks with
the aim of enhancing our capabilities and preparedness. KeBS has provided
standards for production for these items and local manufacturers should produce
what they can en masse without any further delay. We are also scaling up oxygen
supply to all the 94 hospitals under the MES program for use by patients who may
need supplementary oxygen.
f) This crisis has completely disrupted our lives and taken away everything we
took for granted. “Normal” is a word we have to rapidly unlearn and, hopefully
relearn in the future after coronavirus. Yet if we think that our lives have been
disrupted, the world for healthcare workers has been turned upside down; inside
out. More than anyone else, this crisis demands that frontline healthcare workers
give not just their best but that they give their all continuously. They have to be
away from their families so that we may be with ours. They have to come into
close contact with infected persons so that we may remain safe.
While all of us are soldiers in this army against Covid-19, our generals, crack units
and elite fighters at the frontline are our healthcare professionals.
To ensure that our community health workers, nurses, clinical officers,
paramedics, laboratory technicians, pharmacists and doctors, perform their duties
without them being compromised, Personal Protective gear is being made available
and in adequate quantities. To ensure sustained supply of these PPEs, local
manufacturing capacity has been identified and contracted.
To assist our healthcare workers who have demonstrated inspiring selflessness
and diligence under extremely stressful and challenging conditions, let us
rigorously observe the protocols set out by the Ministry of Health so as not to
overburden them with unnecessary and avoidable incidences of infection. Let us
also remember them and their families in our daily prayers and in every other way
that we can.
As His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta directed, our Treasury team is
working with the legislature to re-align our budget to make resources available for
various interventions in combating the pandemic. Provision of water especially in
our towns and particularly informal settlements will be a key consideration. The
identification of vulnerable groups who may require food subsidies have been
mapped out by our national government coordination staff in consultations with all
counties to ensure timely target intervention if this situation escalates.
We encourage Parliament in their patriotic mandate to exercise imagination
commensurate with the magnitude of the challenge we face.
As government makes efforts to mitigate the suffering of the people through a
raft of measures already announced, I wish to appeal to the private sector to be
compassionate, understanding and forbearing with our people and particularly to
employers to make necessary adjustments on non-core expenses to safeguard jobs
and to endeavour not to lay off staff.
I also appeal to the financial services sector, and more specifically the banking
industry, to be equally understanding and consider instituting loan interest
moratoria, suspend foreclosure on property and work out a framework to
renegotiate loans with borrowers as requested by the government.
Equally, we encourage our county governments and assemblies to re align their
budgets and redirect their resources towards interventions to manage this epidemic
and its socioeconomic ramifications, and especially to the vulnerable.
Our farmers, in their millions, should come out strongly and take advantage of
the good rains that we continue to experience and grow as much food as possible.
County governments are urged to work with the national government to coordinate
extension, mechanisation and other enabling services.
We also acknowledge the exemplary coverage by the media who have gone
to great lengths to facilitate dissemination of information that has enhanced public
knowledge of this pandemic.
We have also tasked health officials in counties to proactively issue guidelines
for food supply chains to control the handling of farm produce including
vegetables and fruits, as well as commercial crops like miraa. The continued
supply of fresh produce and food in its entirety is important for our collective
Finally, though we are going to celebrate this Easter weekend differently , we
must remind ourselves that Jesus was persecuted, betrayed, crucified, and that he
ultimately died and was buried. But he triumphed over death. His resurrection is
the reason for our hope of eternal life. I call on the Christian community to lift up
our nation in prayer this Easter period and equally ask Kenyans of all faiths to
commend our nation to God’s unfailing mercy and grace for us to overcome this
God bless you all.”
H.E WILLIAM RUTO E.G.H., E.B.S