KENYA – Kenya’s Ministry of Health has announced stringent measures to help curb the spread of coronavirus in 13 counties located in the western parts of the country that have been designated as the new virus hotspots.

Mutahi Kagwe, cabinet secretary in the Ministry of Health said that among the revised measures to halt the spread of the virus in the 13 counties includes extended night curfew, ban on public gatherings and in-person worship.

Except for essential and emergency services, movement between the hotspot zones and the rest of the country is strongly discouraged,” Kagwe said in a statement released in Nairobi.

Night curfews in the 13 counties that currently account for 60 percent of the national COVID-19 caseload will be observed from 7:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. local time.

Proximity to the Ugandan border could be fueling the infections in Western Kenyan counties requiring all cross-border cargo drivers to be in possession of a valid certificate indicating a negative COVID-19 test when coming into the country.

Bulk cargo trucks will be occupied by only two persons while non-food and livestock open-air markets in the hotspot zone had been suspended for 30 days.

All public gatherings and in-person meetings of whatever nature are prohibited within the hotspot zone, including house parties and sporting activities,” said Kagwe.

All funerals and interment ceremonies in the hotspot zone shall be conducted within 72 hours upon confirmation of death and mourners will not exceed 50 persons.

Hospitals in the hotspot zone will be required to allow only one visitor per admitted patient.

Kagwe advised all employers including the public and private sector, government offices, businesses and companies in the hotspot zone to allow employees to work from home, with the exception of employees working in critical or essential services.

The East African nation’s COVID-19 caseload has risen to 177,282 after 660 out of a sample size of 6,176 tested positive to the virus on Thursday, while total recoveries stood at 122,018.

The national fatality toll caused by the pandemic reached 3,434 after six patients succumbed to the virus, one in the last 24 hours and five were late deaths reported after audits were conducted in health facilities.

The health ministry said a total of 1,059 patients are said to be currently admitted in various health facilities countrywide, while 4,812 patients are under the Home-Based Isolation and Care program.

Meanwhile, Kenya had administered 1.16 million COVID-19 vaccines as of Thursday including 992,418 first doses and 171,743 second doses.