Kenyan Olympic Teams Set For Bubble Training Ahead Of Tokyo

The Olympic Rings are pictured in front of the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne on March 21, 2020, as doubts increase over whether Tokyo can safely host the summer Games amid the spread of the COVID-19. Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP.

 

Kenya’s Olympic teams are to start training in specialised bubble camps early March in the run-up to the Tokyo games, officials said on Tuesday.

The camps are to start on March 2 and will see athletes confined to specific areas as they train, to counter the spread of Covid-19.

“The athletics long distance runners will be based in the high-altitude training region around Eldoret, while the team sports, including the men’s and women’s rugby Sevens, volleyball and Taekwondo do will be based at the Kasarani stadium,” the secretary-general of Kenya’s National Olympic board Francis Mutuku told AFP.

“The aim of the bubble camps is to cut down the amount of travelling by athletes back to their families from training, and reduce the risk of exposure to the still raging Covid-19 pandemic.”

A total of 87 Kenyan sportsmen and women have already qualified for July’s Tokyo Olympics, with the number expected to increase as the new sporting season gets underway.

Kenya hopes to take a team of 100 athletes to the rescheduled games which will be held between July 23 and August 8.

Mutuku said the athletes would be tested frequently for Covid-19 while they are in the camp, which will be closed off to outsiders.

“All the qualified athletes will be tested before they are admitted into the bubble camp.”

Kenya, a world athletics superpower finished 15th and as the top African nation at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, with a total of 13 medals: six gold, six silver and one bronze.

Kenya also topped the overall medals table at the 2015 World Athletics Championships in Beijing, for the first time in its history with seven gold, six silver and three bronze medals.

Kenya’s Locust Hunters On Tireless Quest To Halt Ancient Pest

It has been over a year since the worst desert locust infestation in decades hit the region, and while another wave of the insects is spreading through Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, the use of cutting edge technology and improved co-ordination is helping to crush the ravenous swarms and protect the livelihoods of thousands of farmers. (Photo by Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP)

 

As dawn breaks in central Kenya, a helicopter lifts off in a race to find roosting locusts before the sun warms their bodies and sends them on a ravenous flight through farmland.

Pilot Kieran Allen begins his painstaking survey from zebra-filled plains and lush maize farms, to dramatic forested valleys and the vast arid expanses further north, his eyes scouring the landscape for signs of the massed insects.

The chopper suddenly swings around after a call comes in from the locust war room on the ground: a community in the foothills of Mount Kenya has reported a swarm.

“I am seeing some pink in the trees,” his voice crackles over the headphones, pointing to a roughly 30-hectare (75-acre) swathe of desert locusts.

Reddish-pink in their immature — and hungriest — phase, the insects smother the tips of a pine forest.

Allen determines that nearby farms are at a safe distance and calls in a second aircraft which arrives in minutes to spray the swarm with pesticide.

On the ground, having warmed to just the right temperature, the thick cloud of locusts fills the air with a rustling akin to light rainfall. But a few hours from now, many will be dead from the effect of the poison.

Last month alone, Allen logged almost 25,000 kilometres (15,500 miles) of flight — more than half the circumference of the world — in his hunt for locusts after a fresh wave of insects invaded Kenya from Somalia and Ethiopia.

Like other pilots involved in the operation — who have switched from their usual business of firefighting, tourism, or rescuing hikers in distress — he has become an expert on locusts and the dangers they pose.

“Those wheat fields feed a lot of the country. It would be a disaster if they got in there,” he says pointing to a vast farm in a particularly fertile area of Mount Kenya.

Second wave

Desert locusts are a part of the grasshopper family which form massive swarms when breeding is spurred by good rains.

They are notoriously difficult to control, for they move up to 150 kilometres (90 miles) daily. Each locust eats its weight in vegetation daily and multiplies twenty-fold every three months.

The locusts first infested the east and Horn of Africa in mid-2019, eventually invading nine countries as the region experienced one of its wettest rainy seasons in decades.

Some countries like Kenya had not seen the pest in up to 70 years and the initial response was hampered by poor co-ordination, lack of pesticides and aircraft, according to Cyril Ferrand, a Nairobi-based expert with the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

A slick new operation to combat a second wave of pests has improved control and co-operation in Kenya, Ethiopia, and parts of Somalia.

A picture taken on February 9, 2021, shows a local farmer walking in a swarm of desert locust in Meru, Kenya.  (Photo by Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP)

Locust war room

In Kenya, the FAO has teamed up with the company 51 Degrees, which specialises in managing protected areas.

It has rejigged software developed for tracking poaching, injured wildlife and illegal logging and other conservation needs to instead trace and tackle locust swarms.

A hotline takes calls from village chiefs or some of the 3,000 trained scouts, and aircraft are dispatched.

Data on the size of the swarms and direction of travel are shared with the pilots as well as governments and organisations battling the invasion in Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia.

“Our approach has completely been changed by good data, by timely data, and by accurate data,” said 51 Degrees director Batian Craig.

He said in Kenya the operation had focused on a “first line of defense” in remote and sometimes hostile border areas, which had successfully broken up massive swarms coming in from Ethiopia and Somalia before they reach farmland further south.

In a complex relay, when the wind shifts and the swarms head back into Ethiopia, pilots waiting on the other side of the border take over the operation.

Southern and central Somalia is a no-go zone due to the presence of Al-Shabaab Islamists and the teams can only wait for the swarms to cross over.

Ferrand told AFP that in 2020 the infestation affected the food supply and livelihoods of some 2.5 million people, and was expected to impact 3.5 million in 2021.

He said while a forecast of below average rainfall and the improved control operation could help curb the infestation, it was difficult to say when it will end.

But with dizzying climate fluctuations in the region, “we need to start looking ahead to what needs to be in place if we start to see more frequent infestations of desert locusts.”

While the size of swarms have decreased this year, each one is “affecting someone’s livelihood along the way,” said Craig.

In a Meru village, desperate farmer Jane Gatumwa’s 4.8-hectare farm of maize and beans is seething with ravenous locusts.

She and her family members run through the crops yelling and banging pieces of metal together in a futile bid to chase them away.

“They destroy everything, they have been here for like five days. I feel bad because these crops help us to get school fees and also provide food.”

“Now that there’s nothing left we will have a big problem.”

Kenya Sanctioned For Breaching COVID-19 Rules In CAF Qualifier

 

 

Kenya has been fined 2.2 million shillings ($20,000) and two senior football officials suspended for breaching Covid rules in an African Cup of Nations qualifier against Comoros, a statement said Saturday.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) said the Kenyan team refused to take coronavirus tests before the match in the Comoros capital Moroni in November and only did so when Comoros football officials insisted.

“The test results arrived just a few minutes before the kick off due to the long delay,” CAF said in a statement, adding that four players had tested positive.

“Mr Barry Otieno, the general secretary of the Football Kenya Federation, and Mr Ronny Oyando, the Kenyan team manager, disputed the results …. snatched them … and tore them apart,” it said.

“Four Kenyan players including the skipper Victor Wanyama had tested positive for the coronavirus, yet they took part in the game,” CAF said.

Both Otieno and Oyando were each slapped with a six-month ban from all football activities for their actions.

Kenya had previously been fined one million shillings by CAF following a security breach in the first leg of the qualifier which ended 1-1 at the Nairobi’s Kasarani stadium.

-AFP

Kenya Detects First Cases Of South Africa COVID-19 Strain

Passengers wearing full personal protective gears get off a plane at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya, on January 19, 2021.  Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP
Passengers wearing full personal protective gears get off a plane at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya, on January 19, 2021. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP

 

Kenya’s health ministry says two men have tested positive for a coronavirus strain first detected in South Africa, the first such cases detected in the East African country.

Both cases, which were asymptomatic, were detected in Kenya’s coastal county of Kilifi, and involved foreigners who had since returned home, the ministry’s director-general said Wednesday.

“We all know that this variant is 50 percent more transmissible, therefore posing a significant risk, in that more people will be infected and therefore could be able to stretch the healthcare system more,” said Dr Patrick Amoth.

No information was provided about the nationalities of the men who tested positive for the variant.

According to official figures released Thursday, Kenya has recorded 99,630 cases of coronavirus, of which 1,739 have been fatal, since the outset of the pandemic.

The outbreak surged in October, with the average percentage of positive cases returned in a week soaring to above 16 percent of all tests. That number dropped below three percent last week.

Kenya took quick measures to contain the virus when it was first detected in March, imposing a strict curfew, closing bars and restaurants and shutting schools.

The country has been under some form of nighttime curfew ever since, but other measures have eased somewhat and schools reopened to all students this month after some classes partially resumed in October.

In a briefing paper released Thursday, the Kenya Medical Research Institute forecast that Covid-19 cases and deaths would steadily rise until a peak in mid-March as a likely result of reopening schools.

AFP

Kenya Reopens Schools After 10-Month Virus Closure

Students of Olympic Primary School wait in a line to have their temperatures measured at the entrance of the school in the early morning of the official re-opening day of public schools on January 4, 2021, in Kibera slum, Kenya, as students return to school following a nine-month closure ordered by the government in March 2020 to curb the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
PHOTO: Gordwin ODHIAMBO / AFP

 

Millions of Kenyan pupils returned to school on Monday for the first time since classes were dismissed 10 months earlier due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mask-wearing students had their temperatures checked before entering school to repeat their lost academic year, in what was both a relief and a concern to their parents.

“As a parent, I am pleased that the children are back in school,” said mother Hildah Musimbi.

“At the moment we have got a lot of fear because we really don’t know if other children in school have the virus or even if the teachers have the virus, or even if the support staff in school have the virus.”

READ ALSO: Immigration Enforces Ban On 100 Travellers For Violating COVID-19 Protocols

Kenya shut schools in March 2020 when the new coronavirus arrived in the country and partially re-opened to select classes in October.

All primary and high school students returned on Monday, while universities and colleges were free to open and would do so on varying dates.

“We are happy to be back in school, that was a long break,” Mercy Nderi, a pupil at Kasarani Primary School in Nairobi said.

Teachers turned back students who were not wearing facemasks while struggling to maintain social distancing in crowded classrooms.

“It is difficult because we don’t have sufficient desks to ensure we keep children one metre (yard) away from each other but we are trying our best,” said Mvurya Mumbai, a headteacher at Voi Primary School.

When schools were partially re-opened in October, there was a spike in COVID-19 cases, with pupils and teachers falling ill and at least one school principal dying.

Kenya has had almost 97,000 cases and over 1,600 deaths since the start of the outbreak, with a surge in its positivity rate of up to 20 percent in October decreasing to below five percent in the past week.

“The turnout is good and as you have seen, apart from crowding, all students are wearing their masks and teachers are ready to teach so let us support them,” Education Minister George Magoha said when he toured Olympic Primary School in Nairobi’s Kibera slum, the largest in the country with 4,700 pupils.

“There is no reason why parents should fail to send children to school,” he said.

“We have put in place adequate safety measures but they need to ensure they give them masks.”

President Uhuru Kenyatta this weekend extended a 10:00 pm to 4:00 am curfew until March 12.

Kenyans have been under some form of nighttime curfew since March 25 last year, when they were ordered to stay indoors from 7:00 pm. In July this was moved back to 9:00 pm and in September to 11:00 pm, before being taken back to 10:00 pm in November as cases soared.

AFP

South Africa, Kenya, Cameroon, Other African Countries Confront A Second Wave Of COVID-19

Students do school work during a lesson at Albert Street Primary School, in Johannesburg CBD, on November 25, 2020. (Photo by LUCA SOLA / AFP)

 

After being relatively spared by coronavirus (COVID-19), Africa is bracing for the pandemic’s second wave, noting how the microbe has once more cut a swathe through rich countries in Europe and North Africa.

The continent’s most-hit nations are again having to contemplate stringent public health measures as they await the arrival of the vaccine cavalry.

In South Africa, the start of summer has triggered traffic jams on roads leading to coastal resorts.

But this year, there will be no long, lazy days spent on the beach.

In popular tourist destinations, the coronavirus is spreading at an alarming speed. Authorities have ordered partial closures, limits on the size of gatherings, and an extended curfew.

As the African country worst hit in the pandemic, with almost 900,000 documented cases, South Africa is tightening up health restrictions.

But around Africa, a continent of more than 1.2 billion people, there are stark contrasts in the prevalence of the disease.

New cases are emerging in East Africa, in northern and southern Africa, but the trend in West Africa is a decline, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), an arm of the African Union.

Rising cases in the east

In Uganda, every region has been affected by the pandemic. Neighbouring Rwanda, a far smaller but densely populated country, registered almost as many new cases in December (722) as since the beginning of infection (797).

Bars and nightclubs have been shut since March. Heavily fined for breaking regulations, the owner of a Kigali bar told AFP he had lost everything. “Clients were drinking, but the police forced us to close.”

In Kenya, a second wave of the virus struck in September and led to the closure of schools and the prolongation of a curfew. Some health professionals say they are already waiting for a third wave.

For several weeks, Africa CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) have been pressing African governments to up their game for an inevitable second wave.

Nevertheless, the epidemic first reported in Africa nine months ago has not been as destructive as experts feared, across a poor continent severely lacking in health care structures.

Africa has reported 2.4 million cases, just 3.6 percent of the world’s total, according to a tally compiled by AFP.

The whole continent has registered more than 57,000 deaths, fewer for instance than the total for France alone (59,072).

While the low level of screening might call into question the reliability of the statistics, no African country has observed a peak in excess mortality, which would be a sign of the virus spreading under the radar.

Experts are still trying to understand why Africa, so far, has not been affected to the same extent as other continents.

Explanations include Africa’s youthful population, cross-immunity derived from previous epidemics and a still predominantly rural economy, which means less density of population.

Economic hit

Early and draconian measures imposed on citizens in most African countries clearly put the brakes on the spread of the disease.

But the social and economic consequences of lockdown policies have been disastrous for the weakest economies.

In nations where the stigma of Covid-19 has become less visible, daily life has rushed to resume its course, largely at the expense of social distancing and other barrier gestures.

In central Africa, Cameroon is preparing to host the 2020 African Nations Championship football tournament in January, postponed from last April because of the virus. Officials are counting on a partial reopening of stadiums.

Authorities in Senegal face calls for public protests against restrictions, while in Equatorial Guinea, nightclubs are the only places that remain closed.

“Generally speaking, the virus is continuing to progress in Africa,” warned Isabelle Defourny, operations director at Medecins sans frontieres (Doctors Without Borders, MSF).

MSF has noted a resurgence of Covid-19 both in capital cities and in rural areas, notably in Chad.

“We’re also seeing an increase in severe cases where oxygen is needed, particularly in Bamako (Mali), which was not the case during the first wave,” Defourny said.

The battle Africa must wage for access to vaccines is far from won. The likely cost will be `around 4.7 billion euros ($5.76 billion), but only a quarter of the nations on the continent can muster the required resources, according to the WHO.

Somalia Cuts Diplomatic Ties With Kenya

This file photo taken on May 18, 2016, shows a woman waving a flag as soldiers and other military personnel of Somalia’s breakaway territory of Somaliland march past during an Independence day celebration parade in the capital, Hargeisa. PHOTO: MOHAMED ABDIWAHAB / AFP

 

Somalia announced on Tuesday it is severing diplomatic ties with Kenya, accusing Nairobi of “recurring” interference in its political affairs as Mogadishu prepares for long-awaited elections.

Tensions had been rising between the neighbours and the announcement came as Kenya hosted the leadership of Somaliland, a breakaway state not recognised by the central government in Mogadishu which considers the territory part of Somalia.

Information Minister Osman Abukar Dubbe told reporters that Kenyan diplomats in Mogadishu had been given seven days to leave and that Somalia’s envoys were being recalled from Nairobi.

READ ALSO: Record Number Of Journalists Jailed In 2020, Says Watchdog

“The Somali government considers the people of Kenya a peace-loving community who want to live in harmony with other societies in the region. But the current leadership of Kenya is working to drive the two sides apart,” he said in Mogadishu.

“The government took this decision to respond to recurring outright political violations and interference by Kenya against the sovereignty of our country.”

AFP

Kenyan Prosecutor Orders Probe Of Coronavirus Payments

A file photo of a court gavel.

 

Kenya’s chief public prosecutor, Noordin Haji, has ordered a probe into $71 million in “irregular procurement” linked to the coronavirus by the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA).

Hard-pressed Kenyan hospital staff have staged strikes to highlight what they say are scandalous practices by the authority, which purchases medication and equipment for the nation’s public hospitals.

Three weeks ago, President Uhuru Kenyatta asked the national Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to investigate contracts granted to influential figures, including politicians, without respect for rules of public procurement.

Its report was submitted Friday to the prosecutor, who concluded that “irregular procurement and fraudulent payments” had been made totalling 7.8 billion Kenyan shillings (around $71 million).

Haji then instructed senior prosecutors “to undertake an independent and comprehensive review of the file” within two weeks, he said.

The EACC probe has already led to the suspension of KEMSA head Jonah Manjari and supply director Charles Juma.

Several Kenyan businessmen have already been accused of siphoning off around $400 million worth of public funds destined to pay for medical equipment needed in the battle against Covid-19.

KEMSA’s overall coronavirus budget is not known.

The virus has infected at least 36,800 people in Kenya, which ranks 137 out of 180 countries on a corruption perception index compiled by the non-governmental organisation Transparency International.

Cases Of Teen Pregnancy Rise In Kenya Amid Pandemic

Linet, 16, who is in about 3 months pregnant talks about her unexpected pregnancy as schools are closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, during an AFP interview at her sister's home in Raila slum, next to Kibera slum, in Nairobi, on July 15, 2020.  Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP
Linet, 16, who is in about 3 months pregnant talks about her unexpected pregnancy as schools are closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, during an AFP interview at her sister’s home in Raila slum, next to Kibera slum, in Nairobi, on July 15, 2020. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP

 

Sixteen-year-old Linnet covers her face bashfully, mumbling into her hands as she recounts how she met the young man who bought her fries and gave her money, before leaving her pregnant and facing even greater poverty than before.

She is one of thousands of teenagers who fall pregnant every year in Kenya, a problem experts fear is worsening during the coronavirus pandemic, with some girls pushed into transactional sex to survive while others have more sex as they stay home from school.

Shortly before the pandemic hit Kenya in March, Linnet’s farmer parents in western Busia sent her to Nairobi to find a job as they could no longer afford her school fees.

She moved in with her sister, her sister’s husband — the sole breadwinner — and their two small children in a tiny corrugated-iron room in the Kibera slum.

Food was scarce and the advances of the 22-year-old boda-boda (motorbike taxi) rider, and the luxuries he offered, were hard to resist.

“He would buy me some fries, shoes and also give me some money,” said Linnet, her dress of brightly-coloured flowers stretched tight against her four-month pregnant belly.

She said she had asked him to wear a condom, but he had removed it during intercourse. He has demanded she terminate the pregnancy, and the romance has dissipated.

“I am too young to be pregnant and now I am going to be a mother to a kid,” she said.

“A child needs porridge, milk, money. I feel bad.”

‘The tip of the iceberg’

Kenya has long grappled with high teen pregnancy rates.

However numbers had fallen from 82 pregnancies per 1,000 girls between the ages of 15 and 19 in 2016, to 71 per 1,000 in 2017, according to Save the Children.

Last month, figures from a leaked health ministry document showing thousands of girls had fallen pregnant during lockdown between March and May led to fierce debate on social media.

Linet (L), 16, who is in about 3 months pregnant helps to wash cloths after an interview for AFP with her sister Carol, 22, about Linet's unexpected pregnancy as schools are closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, at her sister's home in Raila slum, next to Kibera slum, in Nairobi, on July 15, 2020.  Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP
Linet (L), 16, who is in about 3 months pregnant helps to wash cloths after an interview for AFP with her sister Carol, 22, about Linet’s unexpected pregnancy as schools are closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, at her sister’s home in Raila slum, next to Kibera slum, in Nairobi, on July 15, 2020. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP

 

In Nairobi alone almost 5,000 girls fell pregnant, just over 500 of them between the ages of 10 and 14, according to the figures from a data unit within the ministry.

Both President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe have mentioned the rise in teen pregnancies during addresses to the nation.

“Teenage motherhood is a catastrophic, disempowering outcome in the life of a girl. More often than not it spells doom to the teenager’s attainment of life’s full potential,” Kagwe said last month.

Evelyne Opondo, senior Africa regional director at the Centre for Reproductive Rights, said evidence of an uptick in pregnancies directly linked to the pandemic was still “anecdotal”.

However she believed the numbers are merely “the tip of the iceberg” as most girls do not seek proper ante-natal care.

She said teen pregnancies were likely increasing during the pandemic because girls were idle at home, or “engaging in relationships for survival”.

Some children get free lunches or free sanitary towels at schools, which will remain closed until at least 2021.

Being home also places an added burden on parents who may have lost their jobs.

“So the young girls will turn to men who will be providing them with pocket money, money for pads,” Opondo said.

“We have seen this even before the virus so you can imagine how much worse it must be.”

Oriema Otieno, a 30-year-old doctor in Embakasi on the outskirts of Nairobi, says he has seen more pregnant girls than usual at his clinic, which is run by a reproductive health NGO.

“Normally with schools open and teens in school we see two in every three months. Now there has been a rise, about seven to eight in one month in this community.”

No sex education

According to Opondo, one of the main drivers of teen pregnancy is ignorance.

“We know that in Kenya there is no comprehensive sexuality education… a lot of girls lack information on how to prevent unintended pregnancies,” she said.

. Linet is one of thousands of teenagers who fall pregnant every year in Kenya,
Linet is one of thousands of teenagers who fall pregnant every year in Kenya,

 

Implementing comprehensive sexuality education in Kenya is a persistent challenge, drawing fierce pushback from religious institutions and conservative groups.

A 2017 analysis by the Guttmacher Institute found that, while various policies exist to provide sexual education in Kenya, topics are limited and do not include information on contraception.

It noted that “messages conveyed to students were reportedly fear-inducing and judgemental or focused on abstinence, emphasising that sex is dangerous and immoral for young people.”

Meanwhile, the topic is taboo at home.

“Let us not lie to ourselves, our kids are having sex,” said Ritah Anindo, 22, a youth advocate for the NGO Reproductive Health Network Kenya.

“Now children are at home, they are not studying. Rich kids, probably they are having online classes but kids in (poor communities), what are they doing?” Anindo said.

“Our kids are idle so what do you expect at the end of it all? Teenage pregnancies, new HIV infections, unsafe abortion.”

For many girls like Linnet, hopes of ever returning to school will be fully dashed once they give birth.

“Most of them will not be able to go back to school… it requires a lot of support, financial support, emotional support,” Anindo said.

“We may have more teenage pregnancies than COVID cases and it is so sad.”

 

AFP

Kenya To Ease Lockdown, Resume International Flights

KENYATTA
File: Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta gives a speech at the Atlantic Council in Washington, DC on February 5, 2020. Eric BARADAT / AFP.

 

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday announced a “phased reopening” of the country, with the resumption of international flights from August 1 as well as the lifting of internal travel restrictions.

The move comes as pressure mounts to kickstart the country’s ailing economy after nearly four months of coronavirus restrictions that have devastated key industries such as tourism.

Kenyatta said in a televised address that “international air travel into and out of the territory of Kenya shall resume effective 1 August 2020.”

He also announced that a ban on movement in and out of the capital Nairobi, the port city of Mombasa and northeastern Mandera, would be lifted from July 15.

However, a curfew from 9pm to 4am will remain in place for another 30 days.

Kenya has recorded just over 8,000 cases of the virus and 164 deaths — the highest official figures in East Africa — and has seen a steep increase in numbers in recent weeks, with a fatality rate of 2.09 percent.

Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe on Sunday warned “our healthcare facilities risk being overwhelmed”.

Fewer than 200,000 people have been tested in the population of 47 million people.

– Reopening ‘conditional’ –

In June, Kenyatta had said that before lifting restrictions, the country would need to have contained infections with numbers headed downwards; the health care system must be prepared to deal with a surge in infections; and the capacity for surveillance and contact tracing must be in place.

He said Monday that experts looking at those conditions determined “we have not met the irreducible minimum 100%”.

However, they agreed “we have reached a reasonable level of preparedness across the country to allow us to reopen,” he said.

Kenyatta also warned the reopening was “conditional”.

“Any trends that signal a worsening of the pandemic, we will have no choice but to return to the lockdown,” he said.

Kenyatta also announced that places of worship will be allowed to reopen, but with a maximum of 100 people attending.

He urged citizens to continue to implement social distancing, and to avoid travel as much as possible, asking them to, “exercise cautious optimism and avoid reckless abandon.”

Like many nations in East Africa, Kenya took swift action to combat the coronavirus, closing its borders on March 25 when it had only 25 cases, shutting schools and imposing a curfew while advising people to work from home.

The restrictions were a blow to millions of poor in the city who live hand to mouth.

“Jobs have been lost, businesses have closed and livelihoods endangered. And this is the sorry state of things the world over,” said Kenyatta.

In recent weeks Nairobi has become busier, with traffic jams returning to the streets of the capital and restaurants re-opening.

Masks are obligatory in the country, but Kagwe has warned of increasing laxity which he said could “spell disaster in coming days”.

“We have observed that many of our people are going about their everyday activities as if we are in normal times,” he said Sunday, citing overloaded public transport and house parties.

AFP

Kenyan Athlete Faces Jail For Forging Medical Documents

File: Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya. Photo: [email protected]

 

 

Kenyan marathon runner Florence Jepkosgei Chepsoi is facing a jail term for presenting false medical documents to support her case against doping, the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK) said on Thursday.

The 36-year-old Chepsoi, who was banned for two years in 2017 for using performance-boosting drug Prednisolone, appeared in an Eldoret court on Thursday charged with the offence.

Her case will be heard on August 13, and if found guilty, Chepsoi will become the first Kenyan athlete to be jailed under ADAK’s doping jurisdiction.

ADAK’s Investigations and Intelligence Gathering Unit said Chepsoi had provided medical documents from Eldoret’s Uasin Gishu Hospital to support her defence case when she appeared before the Kenyan Sports Disputes Tribunal in her doping case in October 2017.

“Uasin Gishu Hospital confirmed those medical documents had been forged and that the athlete had not been treated or seen at the said hospital,” ADAK said.

Kenya’s 2016 Olympic women’s marathon champion Jemima Sumgong was given an additional four-year ban by World Athletics in January 2019 after she was found to have falsified medical documents in an attempt to tamper with a positive test for EPO.

Sumgong, the first Kenyan woman to win an Olympic marathon in Rio, was initially banned for four years by ADAK in October 2017 after testing positive for the blood-booster in an out-of-competition test five months after winning Olympic gold.

 

Kenyan Police Have Killed 15 People Since Start Of COVID-19 Curfew

Kenya Redcross paramedics wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) prepare to assist a COVID-19 coronavirus patient that is inside the ambulance before taking him to the hospital, in Nairobi June on 3, 2020. Simon MAINA / AFP
Kenya Redcross paramedics wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) prepare to assist a COVID-19 coronavirus patient that is inside the ambulance before taking him to the hospital, in Nairobi June on 3, 2020. Simon MAINA / AFP

 

Kenyan police have been involved in the killing of 15 people since the country put a nighttime curfew in place in March to combat the coronavirus, the policing oversight body said in a statement seen by AFP Friday.

The Independent Policing Oversight Body (IPOA) said it had received 87 complaints against police since the dusk to dawn curfew and heightened security measures were imposed on March 27.

“After preliminary investigations, 15 deaths and 31 incidents where victims sustained injuries have directly been linked to actions of police officers during the curfew enforcement,” it said.

According to the statement, the complaints include deaths, shootings, harassment, assaults, robbery, inhumane treatment and sexual assault.

The IPOA statement was released earlier this week as the United States was gripped by anger over racism and police brutality that has prompted protests in the country and around the world.

The killing of George Floyd has not led to major protests in Kenya, with a solidarity march on Tuesday drawing only around 20 people.

However activists on social media have drawn parallels with Kenya’s scourge of police brutality, which often goes unpunished.

Kenya’s police force is often accused by rights groups of using excessive force and carrying out unlawful killings, especially in poor neighbourhoods.

In April Human Right Watch accused the police of imposing the coronavirus curfew in a “chaotic and violent manner from the start”, sometimes whipping, kicking and teargassing people to force them off the streets.

It described the case of 13-year-old 13-year-old Yassin Hussein Moyo who died in the capital Nairobi on March 31 after being shot while standing on his balcony as police forced people into their homes on the street below.

In others, a tomato seller died in western Kakamega after being hit by a teargas canister, while four men were beaten to death in different parts of the country.

In January, HRW said at least eight young men had been shot in three low-income neighbourhoods since Christmas, and a 2019 report detailed the killings of 21 young men and boys by police “apparently with no justification”.

“Although many killings by the police have been well documented by both state institutions and rights organisations, the security officers have rarely been held to account, including by the police oversight authority,” said HRW.

Interior Minister Fred Matiangi on Friday criticised police excesses, but “took exception to painting the entire service with the same brush”, his office said in a statement.

“We have challenges in our law enforcement, and we must all rise and start dealing with them collectively instead of creating a stigma around the police,” Matiangi said.

According to the statement, the country’s chief prosecutor Noordin Haji has formed a specialised unit to speedily handle cases of police violence, and is currently working on 171 cases of such brutality, 81 of which are in court.

On Thursday the IPOA announced six police officers would be arrested and prosecuted, one for the killing of Moyo, another for shooting dead a secondary school teacher while responding to a burglary at a market in western Siaya, and four others for seriously assaulting a man during an arrest.