Read President Uhuru Kenyatta’s full speech today.
Today, we mark more than 15 months since we recorded the first COVID-19 case in Kenya. Although our experiences have been different, the last 15 months have been a season of adapting to a new normal.
Our former way of life was re-set and we had to adapt to new and unfamiliar routines. To protect our children and secure their future, we took them out of school.
Similarly, we had to shy away from places of worship in order to preserve the believers, their families, and their neighbours.
For the love of our elderly, we had to forego visits to our elderly relatives in order to show them love. This has been the unfamiliar and uncomfortable new order of the last 15 months.
And as a country, we have adapted to the new normal with grace and resilience. Terms that looked remote and far from our reach became our normal – the mention of curfew elicited anxiety and lockdown uncertainty.
Over these fifteen months, we have learnt to anticipate COVID-related shock and to forestall its impact with speedy action. On its part, the government has provided swift policy actions and bold decisions whenever a COVID-related threat is detected.
But our resilience as a nation against this pandemic is not just a government affair. The people of Kenya have exercised an admirable degree of civic responsibility in this fight.
Indeed, Kenyans have taken the civic duty of protecting themselves, their families and country against this pandemic positively. Without your exercise of civic responsibility and duty, the government’s swift action would have amounted to nothing. I THANK YOU.
for the last 15 months, COVID took us into a State of Uncertainty in unfamiliar territory that was compounded by a series of dilemma’s that pitted a choice between lives and livelihoods.
But today, I am happy to note that a path out of this uncertainty is beginning to emerge. And the emerging path has two sides to it. The first path is a challenge and the second path is an opportunity with a promise.
Let me begin with the path that is a challenge. For the last 15 months, our efforts of fighting this pandemic can only be described as a ‘containment seesaw’.
And I call it a ‘seesaw’ because sometimes we win on one front and experience a loss on another front.
For instance, the highest positivity rate this year was at 26.6% in the fourth week of March, 2021. This forced us to zone out and lock down the COVID hotspots of Nairobi, Kajiado, Kiambu, Nakuru and Machakos. These counties accounted for 70% of all the COVID positive new cases.
The lockdown brought the positivity rate down to 7.8% in May 2021. And as we eased the lockdown measures in the five zoned counties, the Western Region of our country and the neigbouring Republic of Uganda experienced a new wave.
Because of the unusual nature of this virus, our gains in Nairobi, Kajiado, Kiambu, Nakuru and Machakos, were annulled by the Western attack.
Now, Busia, Kakamega, Nyamira, Kisii, Migori, Siaya, Homa Bay, Kisumu, Trans-Nzoia, Bungoma, Bomet, Vihiga, and Kericho, are on heightened containment measures from the 17th June 2021.
In fact, out of every 5 positive cases in Kenya a fortnight ago, two were from the Western Region. And what is worse: this region has experienced a high positivity rate of 21 percent, compared to the national average of 9.1 percent as at that time.
This swing between loss and gain in the fight against the pandemic is what I am calling the ‘containment seesaw’. You win on one theatre of battle and lose in another. And by default, this swing has created some form of survival instinct in our population.
The fight against COVID is both a social and a health challenge as such we aspire for ‘herd immunity’ in the health arena; and we seem to have built what sociology experts call ‘herd instinct’ in the social arena. We seem to have built a national consensus on what we must do to defeat this pandemic and it is steadily working.
The second path out of the COVID ‘Fog of War’ for Kenya is an opportunity with a promise. When we reported the first case of COVID-19, more than 15 months ago, the idea of a vaccine was a mirage.
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One year later, in March 2021, we were able to roll out a National Vaccine Deployment Plan. Our strategy was to vaccinate 10 million adults by June 2022 and approximately 16 million by June 2023.
But inspired by our ‘Acceleration Doctrine’, which is about constantly increasing the speed of achieving our goals, we revised our Vaccine Deployment Plan.
Instead of vaccinating 10 million adults by June 2022, we will vaccinate the ENTIRE adult population of 26 million Kenyans by 2022. In fact, by Christmas this year, we intend to have vaccinated Over 10 Million adults. According to our experts, we will have built a capacity to vaccinate 150,000 people every day from August 2021.
And this accelerated plan will be aided by a few swift actions and bold programmes. For instance, we have ordered 10 million vaccines from Johnson and Johnson, with the first consignment arriving in Kenya in August 2021.
But in the process of negotiating with this company, we managed to get a lower price. For the price of 10 million vaccines, we have negotiated for them to deliver 13 million vaccines.
And because the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is administered using a single shot, the speed of rolling out our vaccination programme will be accelerated. Using these vaccines and others in the pipelines, this is how we will vaccinate Over 10 million Kenyans by Christmas 2021 and 26 million by end of 2022.
And if a vaccine for under-age populations is registered by early next year, we intend to vaccinate an extra 4 million young adults by June 2022. With a vaccinated population of 30 million people, this will allow us to begin the journey for ‘Herd Immunity’ against this pandemic. And this is our intention for the next 12 months.
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In that regard, and following consultations with the Council of Governors, and with the advice of the National Emergency Response Committee to COVID-19 and the National Security Council, I hereby issue Public Order No. 4 of 2021, as follows:
I. The hours of curfew are maintained at between 7:00 p.m and 4:00 a.m in the COVID-19 hotspot zone; which comprises the counties of Kisumu, Siaya, Homa-Bay, Migori, Busia, Kakamega, Vihiga, Bungoma, Kisii, Nyamira, Kericho, Bomet, and Trans-Nzoia up to 31st July, 2021;
II. That for the rest of the territory of the Republic of Kenya, the nationwide curfew shall continue to be observed from 10:00 p.m to 4:00 a.m for a further containment period of 60 days;
III. That excluding the above mentioned Counties, in/person worship and congregational worship shall continue to be conducted in keeping with the one-third capacity rule and in accordance with the guidelines of the Inter-Faith Council;
IV. That the prohibition against political gatherings and all public gatherings is extended for a further 60 days;
V. That all persons coming into the country must be in possession of a negative COVID-19 PCR Certificate, acquired no more than 96 hours prior to arrival into the Country; with the PCR Certificate also having been validated under the Trusted Travel platform for those travelling by air;
VI. That duly classified and licensed hospitality establishments must continue to adhere to the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health. The establishments must also ensure the adoption of and compliance with the ‘Tourism Safe Travels’ protocols developed by the hospitality sector;
VII. In regard to funerals, cremations and other interment ceremonies; it is directed that these ceremonies shall be conducted strictly within 96 hours of confirmation of death;
VIII. That the attendees, officiators, and facilitators of funerals or graveside/cremation ceremonies shall be limited to 100 persons in total;
IX. That the attendees, officiators, and facilitators of weddings, celebrations of marriage or traditional unions, ceremonies of rites of passage, and all other similar events or ceremonies shall be limited to 100 persons in total;
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X. That all hospitals are directed to limit the number of visitors for hospitalized patients to one visitor per patient per day;
XI. That all other rules, guidelines, and protocols not reviewed through this Public Order shall continue to apply until otherwise notified.
I will conclude with two thoughts. First, it is now clear that we cannot exclusively depend on foreign partners and their systems to resolve our health crises. In that regard, we must substantially prepare ourselves before the next crisis knocks on our doors.
My Administration is addressing this matter through a mid-term and long-term strategy. In the mid-term, we will build in Kenya a ‘fill and finish’ plant. The plan being to import the COVID-19 vaccine unpackaged and finalize the logistics of filling and packaging it in Kenya. This will save us on time and will make us a supply hub for Eastern and Central Africa.
Our long-term strategy is to set up a Human Vaccine Centre. I have directed a multi-agency Team to activate this plan and to focus not only on the COVID-19 Vaccine, but on any other human vaccine needed in our region.
The national quest to produce human vaccines here in Kenya will elevate our nation as a producer for both human and veterinary vaccines that we currently supply to Eastern Africa, all the way to Morocco in North Africa.
My second thought is about the uptake of the COVID vaccine, once we begin the mass roll-out in July this year. Some Kenyans have formed certain theories about vaccination and its effects. Although vaccination is free-of-charge and no one will be forced to get it, some education about it is crucial.
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And I say so because by Mid-2022, we have potential to reach ‘herd immunity’ in which the dangers of one infected Kenyan will not affect a community of people unchecked.
But we can also build ‘herd instinct’ in our communities. If ‘herd immunity’ is meant to respond to an attack, ‘herd instinct’ is meant to anticipate the attack and stop it. And this can only be achieved through vaccination and vaccine education.
To this end, we urge the Inter-Faith Council, working with private sector partners and other civic associations to take up the vaccine education and to be a central plank of the upcoming vaccination drive. This way, we will build the ‘herd immunity’ and ensure that the instinct of communities to survive is high.