NAIROBI, 12 March 2021 – Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has extended COVID-19 restrictions for another 60 days, maintaining a nationwide curfew from 10 PM to 4 AM.
The extension comes as confirmation was received Friday that Kenyan opposition leader, Raila Odinga, has tested positive for the virus on Thursday.
Odinga’s family told reporters that he was admitted to hospital on Tuesday in the capital, Nairobi, after developing fatigue.
“He’s responding well to the treatment he is receiving… and remains upbeat,” Odinga’s doctor said in a statement.
Odinga, 76, issued a statement saying he agreed with doctors to self-quarantine, adding that he “feels strong” and is “in good shape”.
The nearly one-year-long restrictions have been very costly to the Kenyan economy.
Last year, the cost tag of COVID-19 restrictions on the Kenyan economy is above $5.1 billion, the Kenyan leader has said.
Kenyatta has lauded the restrictions for preserving the lives of some 150,000 Kenyans who would have been killed by the virus in the course of 2020 had no restrictions been put in place, according to projections by scientists.
He said an extension of the restrictions is justified by a recent surge in infections across the country which is believed to be facing a third wave of infections since the outbreak was first detected in March 2020.
Public health officials in the east African nation said the average daily number of confirmed cases has risen from less than 100 in January 2021 to 750 in March 2021.
On Thursday, Kenya confirmed 829 new cases of COVID-19 infections – a new daily record of cases for the country since the beginning of 2021.
Kenyatta says the rise can be traced directly to a failure to observe COVID-19 restrictions.
He encouraged the country’s armed and security forces to crackdown on violators, especially the organizers of political rallies which have been described as “super-spreader events”.
Odinga has been cited in news reports as one of the politicians who have been holding political rallies over the last couple of months with no precautionary safety measures taken.
Under the extended restrictions, political gatherings will remain banned for 30 days, while pubs and restaurants must close an hour before the start of the nighttime curfew.
Further restrictions have also been imposed on the number of people who can attend family events like weddings or funerals.