Kenya blocks entry as virus cases mount in East Africa
Kenya unveiled a series of strict measures to curb coronavirus on Sunday, blocking entry to the country to all except citizens and other residents and shutting schools as the number of confirmed cases rose to three.
As cases also mounted in Ethiopia and the Seychelles, countries across the region are taking action, blocking flights and banning mass gatherings.
In an address to the nation, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said two people who had come into contact with a 27-year-old Kenyan patient “have tested positive” and been moved into an isolation facility.
“The government is suspending travel for all persons coming into Kenya from any country with reported Coronavirus cases,” he said.
“Only Kenyan citizens and foreigners with valid resident permits will be allowed to come into the country provided they proceed on self-quarantine or in a government quarantine facility.”
Kenyatta said the new measures would come into effect in the next 48 hours and remain in place for 14 days.
Every foreigner who has entered the country in the past 14 days has been ordered to self-quarantine.
In addition from Monday, all primary and secondary schools are to close, with boarding schools and universities to shut by the end of the week. All companies have been urged to allow their employees to work from home.
Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe said the two new patients had sat next to the first confirmed case as she travelled back from the United States via London.
One is Kenyan and the other holds dual Kenyan-British nationality.
After being relatively spared from the global pandemic, which has killed over 6,000 and infected over 150,000 worldwide, 25 African countries have now reported virus cases compared to just nine a week ago.
– More cases in Ethiopia, Seychelles –
Ethiopia, which like Kenya reported its first case on Friday, on Sunday said three people who had been in contact with the initial patient have now tested positive.
Two are Japanese citizens aged 44 and 47 and the other is a 42-year-old Ethiopian.
“All of them work in Addis Ababa and had close contact with the first confirmed case,” the health ministry said in a Facebook post.
Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous nation with more than 100 million people and a key hub into the continent, is one of few countries in the region not to implement emergency measures such as blocking travellers.
The island nation the Seychelles, which reported a third case on Sunday, has blocked cruise ships and travellers coming from South Korea, Iran, China and Italy.
The new case in the Seychelles is a Dutch citizen who arrived on the same plane as the first two patients who had tested positive on Saturday.
Rwanda, which also confirmed its first virus case this weekend, has shut schools and churches for two weeks and banned concerts and other large gatherings. Its national airline Rwandair has cancelled its flights to India, Israel and China.
The Belgian embassy in Rwanda announced in a statement that it is suspending operations, as the Indian man who tested positive had attended a meeting there.
South Sudan’s health ministry said last week it was “temporarily suspending direct flights between South Sudan and all affected countries”.