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Politicians’ Non-compliance with COVID-19 Guidelines Appalling: Kenya's Interfaith Council

Some COVID-19 guidelines for parents, guardians and caregivers

The attitude of non-compliance with COVID-19 guidelines on the part of politicians in Kenya is disappointing and appalling, members of the Interfaith Council in Kenya have said in a statement over the weekend.

In the Saturday, March 6 statement, members of the Catholic Archbishop-led Council with the mandate to guide public worship amid COVID-19 pandemic call on politicians in the East African nation to adhere to the safety guidelines.

“Much as we are making all efforts to avoid contagion and spread in the places of worship, we are disappointed and appalled by the attitude of many of our political leaders,” the members say in their statement signed by Archbishop Anthony Muheria of Kenya’s Catholic Archdiocese of Nyeri.

Politicians in Kenya, they add, “have continued to have public and political gatherings, taking few or no preventive measures themselves, nor for the attendants.”

The ban placed on public gatherings, including political ones, was extended by the country’s leadership on January 3, with a review of the extension expected on March 12.

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In their March 6 statement, members of the Inter-faith Council say that Kenyan politicians’ “reckless behaviour and bad example” has negatively influenced the people of God in the country “making them take compliance with the protocols less seriously, and even at times to totally ignore them.”

They appeal to politicians in Kenya to “lead by example in compliance lest we end up having the unfortunate situation of losing key leaders to COVID-19 together with our citizens.”

The religious leaders of the 16-member body express delight and gratitude for the arrival of the coronavirus vaccines to Kenya saying, “We hope that these will now act as a good defense against the further spread of COVID-19, starting with our front line workers.”

One million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine arrived in Kenya on March 2 night.

The Inter-faith Council members call on Kenyans, including those who have been vaccinated, to continue following the COVID-19 guidelines issued by the country’s Ministry of Health “since it is not clear if a vaccinated person can be infected or can transmit the virus to others and how long the immunity will last.” 

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The vaccine “does not provide a definitive solution to the pandemic,” they further say and add, “we must all play our part in this fight.” 

The 400,000 doses of the vaccine that arrived in Kenya through the COVAX initiative are expected to be administered to health workers in the country. 

COVAX is a partnership between the World Health Organisation (WHO), Gavi Vaccine Alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). It aims at reducing vaccine disparity between high and low-income countries by availing the inoculations to developing nations.

Kenya has recorded at least 108,827 cases of coronavirus including 1,876 deaths and 87,570 recoveries. 

According to the Interfaith Council members, funerals are the “highest threat by far, for the infection spread.”

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“We are still very concerned about the careless attitude of Kenyans when organizing and attending funerals, in total disregard to the measures of prevention and prudence,” the members of the Council say in their March 6 statement.

The members who include two other Catholic Bishops call on all religious leaders in the country to lead the way and demand that congregants observe the preventive measures during religious burials.

They further limit funerals to no more than two hours and caution against serving food in funeral gatherings.

Meanwhile, the religious leaders announce their decision “to transition to Phase 3 of the Phased reopening of our Public Worship,” which, they say, has been informed by “the decline of the number of new cases, and in general the number of casualties of COVID-19.”

While calling for continued strict adherence to the Council’s guidelines on entry, sanitization and social distancing during religious gatherings, they revise upward the duration of public worship from two to three hours. 

The religious leaders have also permitted “youth and children services and gathering.”

“Kenyans, God walks with us. We must also intensify our prayer to God so that He can bring the Pandemic to an end,” members of the Interfaith Council in Kenya say in their March 6 statement.