Information last updated: May 12, 2020
- Nationwide night-time curfew from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. (medical professionals, health workers, critical and essential services providers). No road, rail or air traffic to and from Nairobi and the coastal towns and counties of Kwale, Kilifi and Mombasa.
- 700 confirmed cases, 33 deaths239 recoveries as of May 12.
- Guidelines for partial reopening of eateries and restaurants but Government offices, businesses and companies are encouraged to allow staff to work from home, except those in critical or essential services.
- Schools are to remain closed until early June.
Response set up and capacity
At the national level, efforts to contain the spread of COVID 19 are led by the National Coordination Committee on the Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic (NCCRCP). The committee, chaired by the Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government, has been tasked to coordinate actions undertaken by various state agencies. The two national testing facilities (Kenya Medical Research Institute and National Influenza Centre) have so far done 17, 492 tests and are readying for mass targeted testing. In the 47 counties, each county governor has formed an independent local committee to manage the pandemic. There is however need for enhanced coordination between the various organs of the national government including the Ministry of Health, on one hand, and the county governments, on the other hand, for a successful containment of the crisis.
The public health system in Kenya is characterized by 0.04 doctors, 0.1 nurses and midwives, and 0.8 beds per 1,000 inhabitants.
Entities / Organizations
• National Coordination Committee on the Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic (NCCRCP): provides leadership and policy guidance on the overall response to the pandemic and is tasked with developing a comprehensive package of the legal, policy, financial, technical and logistical resources required by the country.
• National Emergency Response Committee on Coronavirus: coordinates the preparedness, prevention and response to the threat of the contagion.
• National Economic and Business Working Group: leds the response to the macro and microeconomic impact of Covid-19 and develops strategies to ensure swift economic rebound after the crisis.
• Security Preparedness and Response Working Group: maintains security and order in the country during the pandemic.
• Food Supply Working Group: monitors the availability of staple foods and takes necessary action to ensure that there is an adequate food supply for all Kenyans during the pandemic.
• Ministry of Health: manages health programmes targeted towards the prevention and control of Covid-19 and issues regular reports, statistics and guidelines to the public about the disease.
• County governments: identify local quarantine and isolation facilities in the counties, lead preventive and control measures in the counties.
• Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund: set up to mobilize resources for emergency response towards containing the spread, effects and impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
• Kenya Medical Research Centre (KEMRI): in charge of sampling, screening and testing of Covid-19 cases.
• National Influenza Centre: screens and tests Covid-19 cases.
• Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA): procures and distributes medical supplies.
• Red Cross: sensitizes the public about the disease.
• United Nations country team in Kenya (WHO, UNICEF, UNDP): provides financial and informational support to the government.
Mitigating factors - What is being done?
- February 28: Following the declaration of Covid-19 as a public health emergency of international concern by WHO, the President issued the completion of the national isolation and treatment facility at Mbagathi hospital, Kenya’s national infectious disease hospital. The government began the Identification and preparation of isolation and treatment facilities in referral hospitals across the country and established the National Emergency Response Committee on Coronavirus.
- March 13: First case confirmed in the country. Patient is moved into a national isolation facility, along with 27 other contacts. Thereafter, screening started, any identified case hospitalized, and contact tracing initiated immediately.
- March 15: The President announced the following directives:
- Suspension of travel into Kenya from affected countries.
- Kenyan citizens en route were allowed to come in provided they proceeded on self-quarantine or to a government designated quarantine facility.
- All travelers into Kenya in the last 14 days were ordered to self-quarantine and present themselves to the nearest health facility for testing if they have developed symptoms.
- Suspension of learning in all education institutions.
- Employers are encouraged to allow employees to work from home, except for those offering essential services.
- Use of cashless transactions encouraged and financial services providers encouraged to reduce cost of transactions.
- Social gatherings, including congestion in public transport, discouraged.
- March 25: more directives were issued to protect Kenyans from the economic effects of Covid-19. These include 100% tax relief for persons earning gross monthly income of up to USD 240, the reduction of income tax rate (personal and corporation) from 30% to 25% and teh reduction of the turnover tax rate from 3% to 1% for all Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). Additionally, these also include the temporary suspension of the listing with the Credit Reference Bureau (CRB) for MSMEs, the appropriation of an additional USD 100 million to the cash transfer programme for vulnerable persons, the reduction of VAT from 16% to 14% to improve cash flows for businesses, the recruitment of additional health workers to support in the management of the spread of COVID-19, the reduction in the salaries of senior government officers to free up monies. Last, the Central Bank Rate (CBR) was lowered to 7.25% from 8.25% to stimulate credit expansion, and the Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) was decreased to 4.25% from 5.25% to provide additional liquidity to commercial banks. A daily curfew from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. with all movements disallowed except for essential services providers.
- May 11: Kenya’s health authorities have announced that all patients being admitted to hospitals will have to be tested for coronavirus to ensure that health workers are protected from infections when handling patients in hospitals.
- May 6: The IMF Executive Board Approved a US$739 Million Disbursement to Kenya to Address the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
- May 1: Kenya’s National Treasury created a fund of close to Sh100 billion to cushion distressed Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises against the coronavirus effects.This was designed to ensure that loan rates remain affordable to MSMEs.
- April 6: the government ordered restriction of movement of persons in and out of the virus hotspots (Nairobi Metropolitan Area; Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale counties).
- April 2: the World Bank approved $50 million in immediate funding to support Kenya’s response to the pandemic under the Kenya Covid-19 Emergency Response Project. In addition to this support, the Alibaba Foundation (Jack Ma) donated medical supplies in two batches in March and April.
- April 22: Denmark’s Parliament approved a global Covid-19 emergency support package with USD 5 million set aside for Kenya.
- April 25: The president announced the roll-out of the National Hygiene Programme to promote sanitation and employment in informal settlements.
In addition to this, support from community and individuals has been crucial, though not all documented. Local companies and private individuals are making monetary and non-monetary contributions to the Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund. Covid-related Aid received by the Kenyan government is listed and updated on this page: https://actionfortransparency.org/covid-19/aid/
Furthermore, to ensure that porous borders and security do not compromise our response to this pandemic, security services will upgrade their alert and response measures in every border area. The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, a government agency responsible for collecting, analyzing and disseminating statistical data in Kenya, is conducting a survey on the socio – economic impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on households and individuals in the country. KNBS interviewers will call respondents and administer a questionnaire through their mobile phones from the same individuals and households twice a month.
Risks, vulnerabilities, obstacles
- The Ministry of Health had in early April projected that Covid-19 cases in the country would hit 5,000 cases by mid-April and 10,000 cases by end of April. Yet, projections of Covid-19 cases by BMC Public Health using an exponential model showed that Kenya would hit a daily record of 1,000 cases on April 14th and 4,000 cases on April 21st. The reported cases have been much lower than earlier projected, but mass testing has not been done yet. With the widespread shortage of testing materials, the real number of cases could be higher. Health officials are especially worried about the possible spread of the virus in crowded slums. And even with more tests made available, there is a risk that people avoid being tested to prevent being quarantined.
- A shortage of medical personnel to manage the disease – meanwhile the national and county governments have efforts underway to hire more staff. In addition to this, there is a shortage of medical equipment e.g. testing kits, personal protective equipment (PPEs), ventilators, and ICU beds is a limitation in the fight against Covid-19.
- There is a public outcry on the erosive effects of the strict measures to control the pandemic on cultural practices e.g. burials and weddings.
- On March 31st, a 13-year-old boy was shot and killed on his balcony in Nairobi as police moved through the neighbourhood, enforcing a coronavirus curfew. Violent behavior when enforcing lockdown regulations could lead to protests.
- Myths about Covid-19 in Kenya include that it only affects the elderly or that it is a “rich man’s disease”. It is claimed to affect those who travel abroad and those residing in cities. Others include that Africans have natural immunity against the disease. These myths have contributed to reckless behavior by many who for example fail to observe guidelines on social distancing, regular handwashing etc.
- Kenya has released 7,000 inmates in a bid to empty high risk over-crowded prisons since the coronavirus pandemic hit the country, Interior Minister Fred Matiang’i has told senators.
Potential actions and demands
- Results of an opinion poll by Infotrak Research and Consulting released on March 29th indicated that 70 percent of Kenyans prefer a complete lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19. This view has been supported by some of the leading politicians and public intellectuals. Yet, the government is hesitant to implement a complete lockdown to avoid disruption of livelihoods.
- Businesspeople and traders have protested against the curfew and the cessation of movement in and out of the virus hotspots. They cite negative effects on business.
- The Law Society of Kenya petitioned the judiciary over the constitutionality of the curfew while the Kenya Human Rights Commission decried extreme enforcement of the curfew.
- Some church leaders went to court in protest of the suspension of church services but the High Court returned a verdict asking churches to find alternative forms of worship.
- The Muslim community has asked for the relaxation of curfew rules during Ramadhan, a request that the government has turned down.
- Pundits are calling for robust policies targeting food systems e.g. tax reduction, subsidies, and support for e-commerce firms to alleviate the ongoing food crisis that has resulted from the government-imposed containment measures. The food security effects of the pandemic are said to be more pronounced that the health effects.
- As part of the “Kazi Mtaani” initiative, 10,600 youths living in Nairobi’s slums (Mathare, Kibera, Mukuru and Korogocho) have been enlisted for street cleaning, fumigation, disinfection, garbage collection, bush clearance and drainage unclogging services, among others. April 26: In a circular, the Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua, informed that the government is rolling out a voluntary pay cut programme starting this end month covering lower cadre civil servants to support the fight against COVID-19. The law requires that whoever contributes to the fund must still retain at least a third of their gross salaries after all the deductions.
- Fee waivers on person-to-person mobile money transactions on MPESA were approved. Also, a 100% tax relief for persons earning less than Ks.24,000 (US$ 240) is planned.
Contributor(s): Jane Mariara.