Public Worship in Multiple Dioceses in Kenya Suspended amid Surge in COVID-19 Cases

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta addresses the nation from State House Nairobi on Friday, March 26.

Public worship in some four Kenyan Dioceses has been suspended indefinitely amid a spike in reported cases of COVID-19 in the East African nation.

Announcing the suspension Friday, March 26 alongside other restrictions, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta directed, “All physical/In-person and congregational worship in ALL places of worship … stands suspended until otherwise notified.”

The affected Catholic Church jurisdictions include Nairobi Archdiocese, and parts of the Dioceses of Ngong, Machakos, and Nakuru. These are episcopal sees that cover Kenya’s Counties of Nairobi, Kajiado, Machakos, Kiambu, and Nakuru.

President Kenyatta clarified that in person and congregational worship in the rest of the 42 Kenyan Counties covered by 22 Catholic Diocese  “shall continue to be conducted in keeping with the one-third rule” and in accordance with the guidelines of the Catholic Archbishop-led Interfaith Council.

According to Kenya’s Head of State, the five Kenyan Counties with renewed restrictions have recorded the highest number of COVID-19 infections in the third wave of the pandemic in the country, a situation that “calls for urgent and drastic measures,” he said.

He noted that the tightening of COVID-19 measures has been “compelled by medical and empirical evidence,” gathered since his March 12 address to the nation, during which he extended the nationwide 10 p.m. – 4 a.m. curfew by 60 days.

Kenya has recorded at least 126,000 COVID-19 cases, 91,268 recoveries, and 2,092 related deaths.

“The number of COVID-19 confirmed cases in January 2021 was 4,380; this has now shot to 15,916 confirmed cases by 21st March 2021,” President Kenyatta said during his March 26 televised address to the nation.

He added, “At the end of January 2021, our COVID-19 positivity rate stood at 2.6%. By Monday 22nd March 2021, the positivity rate had jumped to19%; and indications by our experts is that the positivity rate is now settling at 22%.”

He went to explain, “What this means is that, if you test 100 Kenyans for COVID today, 20 will be positive; compared to January this Year, when only 2 would have been positive. This tells us that our rate of infection has gone up 10 times between January and March 2021.”

The COVID-19 statistics “confirm the fact that a Third Wave of COVID-19 is at hand in Kenya,” President Kenyatta said, adding that the positivity rate in the country is “at its highest since the pandemic hit us” on 12 March 2020.

“The death rate is devastating by all measures; and the stress the pandemic is placing on our health system is unparalleled,” he emphasized.

Other measures, which President Kenyatta directed during his March 26 address include cessation of movement by road, rail, or air into and out of the five counties and the suspension of public gatherings and in-person meetings “of whatever nature” in the same regions.

“With respect to Education in Kenya, there shall be the immediate suspension of all on-going physical learning in all our education institutions including universities and tertiary and vocational colleges, other than for candidates sitting for their examinations and those in medical training institutions, until otherwise notified,” the President further directed.

The President also directed the suspension of the ordinary sittings of both houses of Parliament as well as those of the five affected County Assemblies; and the suspension of all sporting and recreational activities.

“In view of the high morbidity and mortality rates among those who are above 50 years of age, those above 58 years of age shall be vaccinated as a priority during this 1st vaccination phase,” President Kenyatta directed.

He called for concerted efforts in fighting the pandemic, saying, “COVID-19 is an invisible enemy and the war against it is complex. Government alone cannot fight it and win.”

“Fellow Kenyans, I am confident that working together, we, as a government upholding our duty of care to you, our citizens; and you, as citizens, responding by exercising your civic responsibility, we will defeat this Third Wave of COVID,” President Kenyatta said.

He added in reference to latest wave of COVID-19, “We will defeat it because we all did our part to the best of our ability.”

Tags: Kenya , Public Worship , COVID-19 , ACI Africa