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Africa News Mon, 29 Jun 2020

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Kenya's State House now out of bounds in bid to curb virus transmission

State House is virtually out of bounds for staff as President Uhuru Kenyatta moves to curb the transmission of Covid-19, which has seen at least four of his handlers hospitalised.

Mr Kenyatta has reportedly not set foot in the House on the Hill for some time now and is instead running the country from his home and Harambee House offices.

At the same time, he has suspended physical engagements as his handlers also implement a restricted access policy with most briefings being done via Skype with only critical ones like intelligence briefs happening physically but under a controlled environment.

"Movement in and out of State House has been restricted," Mr Kenyatta's spokesperson Kanze Dena said Saturday.

Random calls

"He has been making random calls when he wants to consult on an issue or catch up with friends," a close friend of the Head of State said.

And all the staff at Harambee House have to be tested periodically to keep the President from the danger of contracting the virus.

Even as the President continued to host a limited number of guests at State House, each was required to undergo tests preceded by intense screening.

Ms Dena said the staff who tested positive are all recuperating but still in hospital.

"We have staff working from home and some from various government offices and at the State House as well.

Virtual meetings

"The President is holding meetings virtually as well as from his office at Harambee House. The four staff are at the Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral and Research Hospital and are faring on well," she said.

To decongest the President's official residence, most of the essential staff are operating from a number of government offices spread across Community, such as the NHIF and NSSF buildings.

Older staff at Mr Kenyatta's office, as is the case with other civil servants, are working from home.

President Kenyatta, out of the need to protect the vulnerable segments of the workforce and curb the spread of the virus, in March asked those 58 years and above to work from home.

Work from home

"I hereby order and direct that all State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above, serving in Job Group S and below or their equivalents, take leave or forthwith work from home," he said.

Kenya has received praise both from within and outside for its handling of the pandemic at a time, some of its neighbours have been criticised for adopting a care-free approach to it, in the end endangering the lives of the masses.

When he teamed up with Jubilee members of the National Assembly last Monday at the Kenyatta International Convention for a parliamentary group meeting that saw Mr Aden Duale replaced by Mr Amos Kimunya as Majority leader, the President not only disclosed that he had received his Covid-19 results which showed he was free from the virus but also that he was no longer operating from the State House. He told them that his aide-de-camp was equally safe.

Panic

About two weeks ago, Ms Dena disclosed to the nation that the pandemic had hit Mr Kenyatta's seat of power and that the identities of the four affected would remain concealed as they seek treatment at the Kenyatta University Teaching and Referral Hospital in Kiambu County.

"During last week's mass Covid-19 testing held on Thursday, June 11 2020, four persons were found to have contracted the disease...Families and close contacts of the affected officers are also being attended to accordingly," Ms Dena said in a statement issued today.

It caused panic with fears that the Head of State may have contracted the virus. Ms Dena reassured the country that the President and all members of the first family are "safe and free from Covid-19".

Source: allafrica.com

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