The government is considering introducing stricter measures to arrest the spread of Covid-19 as the country continues to record a dramatic escalation of infections.
Options being considered, which could be announced as soon as this week, include a total lockdown or ban on movement into and out of areas identified as hotspots.
In just four days, the country has registered 124 confirmed coronavirus cases, with the Health ministry warning that Covid-19 is now spreading in communities.
Announcing the confirmation of 45 new cases Tuesday, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said the situation is escalating at a worrying rate.
“Before the end of the week, the government will introduce other measures that will ensure that we are able to contain the virus,” he said.
The government, he said, will not hesitate to escalate or de-escalate the measures that have been put in place based on how people behave.
“The situation is deteriorating and we must take a step in the right direction so that we do not have a situation where the health infrastructure cannot cope as has been witnessed in other countries,” he said.
And, although this sudden increase in cases is attributed to the mass testing initiative that kicked off last week, it has given the government an indication of how severe undetected infections could be out there.
But the turnout of people willing to be tested in the hotspots has been low as people fear being taken into isolation or treated at their own costs if found positive.
Some politicians have not made it any better, urging their constituents to stay away from the voluntary testing booths set up by the government.
The National Command Centre on the Coronavirus Pandemic is reviewing the enforcement of the existing public health measures against the rising numbers of positive cases and will present its findings to President Uhuru Kenyatta before the end of the week.
In Nairobi, most of the new cases are spread out in Eastleigh, Embakasi, Kawangware and Umoja. Ruaka, a neighbourhood on the outskirts of Nairobi, has also been identified as a potential hotspot.
In Mombasa, the areas identified as hotspots are Old Town, Kuze, Bondeni, Memon and Mlango Wa Papa wards in Mvita constituency.
Wajir and Mandera counties, too, have been bracketed as hotspots while Kilifi has been identified as a place to watch.
“Mombasa is worrying and we have to take further measures,” Mr Kagwe warned last week.
Worries about economy
He said the situation is not getting any better despite a de-escalation of restrictions announced by President Kenyatta last week. “The figures that we are hearing today are a clear demonstration that things are not getting any better,” said Mr Kagwe.
The de-escalation of restriction measures last week was partly informed by the need to cushion the economy from total collapse.
With the sudden increase in numbers, however, the government has been pushed to introduce even more painful measures.
A total nationwide lockdown is still not on the cards, according to sources in security circles.
But a ban on movement — including during the day in areas identified as hotspots — is very likely.
Five counties are under the cessation of movement order — Mandera, Nairobi, Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale.