Kenyans without face masks face six months jail term
London, April 15, 2020 (AltAfrica)-Any Kenyan found in public place without protective face mask is to face six month jail term or face heavy fine as the East African government battles to stop the spread of covid-19 in the country
Kenya’s police boss said the grace period for everyone not wearing face masks has expired and arrests will now take place, starting on Wednesday.
Inspector General Hillary Mutyambai said people had been given enough time to buy the masks and enforcement will now start.
The ministry of health has gazetted the law on compulsory mask stipulating that anyone found in public without a mask will be fined 20,000 Kenyan shillings ($190; £150) or face a six-month jail term.
Public transport operators had earlier asked the government to supply them with masks, citing high costs.
Currently a single-use mask is retailing at 100 Kenyan shillings ($0.09; £0.07) while a N95 version retails for up to 1,500 Kenyan shillings.
The government had issued a directive that everyone in public places wears a mask and contacted various companies to help in the production of masks.
The ministry has been running public education campaigns about how to wear and remove masks to ensure no contamination takes place.
Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, the official advice from the World Health Organization has been clear. Only two types of people should wear masks: those who are sick and show symptoms, and those who are caring for people who are suspected to have the coronavirus
Meanwhile, six counties are emerging as Covid-19 hotspots as the Health ministry raises the alarm over massive spread of the virus outside Nairobi.
“The virus is now domiciled across the length and breadth of our republic — from down south in Kilifi to Mandera in the north. And from the west in Vihiga to Kitui in the east,” Health Chief Administrative Secretary Mercy Mwangangi warned on Tuesday.
By Tuesday, a number of residents in 21 counties had tested positive for the virus that has infected more than 1.9 million people and claimed over 121,700 lives globally.
The patients are spread in the counties of Nairobi (101), Mombasa (34), Kilifi (10), Kiambu (7), Mandera (6), Machakos (6) and Nakuru (5).
Kitui, Kajiado, Laikipia, Kakamega, Murang’a, Nyandarua, Siaya and Uasin Gishu have two cases each while Kisii, Homa Bay, Nyamira, Nyeri and Kwale have one case each.
But it is the number of infections in Mandera, Kiambu, Machakos, Kilifi and Mombasa that is worrying the national committee combating the disease.
Of particular concern is Mandera, which was not among the 14 counties identified as coronavirus high-risk areas.
While it trails Nairobi, Mombasa, Kiambu and Kilifi, a look at the situation on the ground reveals a sorry state of affairs that is likely to fuel infections.
On Tuesday, the county government revealed that 32 people — who had travelled from Nairobi last week — disappeared from a quarantine facility in Elwak under unclear circumstances.
A bus driver who ferried them in a Makkah bus was not charged as expected and no one seems bothered.
“I write to register our displeasure with the manner in which 32 people out of 66 passengers disappeared from quarantine facilities under the watch of police officers,” a letter by Public Service executive Ahmed Sheikh to Mandera South Deputy County Commissioner Abdihakim Dubat reads.
“It appears a few elements within the security system are yet to understand the seriousness of this campaign against the coronavirus.”