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Religious Leaders Caution Kenyans against Political Gatherings amid COVID-19

Members of the Interfaith Council in Kenya/ Credit: Courtesy Photo

Members of the Interfaith Council on COVID-19 in Kenya are urging citizens of the East African nation to keep off political gatherings which are potential spreaders of the coronavirus.

In a Monday, September 27 statement, the religious leaders say ongoing political campaigns in Kenya “seem to undo many of the gains we make'' in the fight against COVID-19. 

“We plead to Kenyans to put their lives first and desist from participating in these gatherings where little effort is made to live the precautions and the protocols given by the Ministry of Health,” they say in the statement signed by the Council’s Chairman, Archbishop Anthony Muheria of the Catholic Archdiocese of Nyeri. 

They regret that their pleas with the political class to seek alternative campaign methods that do not endanger citizens’ lives have fallen on deaf ears. 

On September 7, the religious leaders asked politicians to take the lives of Kenyans seriously by seeking alternative means to reach out to their constituents.

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“We are calling to your conscience and your heart that you please take the lives of our people seriously, defend and protect it,” representatives of Kenya’s religious leaders said.

Members of the Interfaith Council urged Kenyan politicians who are engaged in early campaigns for August 2022 general elections to adhere to government COVID-19 restrictions and use other means of carrying out their political popularizations “other than putting the lives of people at risk.”

Kenya's government announced the suspension of public gatherings as a measure to control the spread of COVID-19. A section of Kenyan politicians have, however, continually defied the directives. 

In the September 27 statement, members of the Council formed in July last year to develop protocols for the phased reopening of the places of worship in Kenya also express concerns about the spread of COVID-19 during funerals. 

“Our second concern seems to be funerals. We plead with all Kenyans through the religious leaders, to shorten the time between death and the burial, so as to reduce the number of the preparation gatherings,” they say.

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The representatives of Kenya’s religious leaders add, “Please also adhere to the Guidelines from the Interfaith Council in the Funerals, not to offer any meals at the funerals.”

On a positive note, members of the Catholic Archbishop-led Council express their awareness of the “greater uptake” of COVID-19 vaccines in the last month.

The East African nation has observed an increase in the uptake of COVID-19 vaccines since the vaccination campaign started in March this year. 

“We encourage all Kenyans to take the vaccine, so as to protect ourselves from serious illnesses,” say members of the Council that has two other Kenyan Catholic Prelates, Bishop John Oballa of Ngong Diocese and Bishop Joseph Obanyi of the Diocese of Kakamega.

They also encourage Kenyans to “assist the elderly to get vaccinated, since many times they are further away from the vaccination points and may not even be aware of it.”

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The religious leaders add in reference to the elderly, “They are our loved ones and we do not wish to lose their lives by chance, through COVID-19 illness. Let us support the vaccination efforts according to our possibilities.”

Kenya has recorded 248,515 COVID-19 cases including 5,109 deaths and 240,672 recoveries. 

In their September 27 statement, the members of the Interfaith Council condole with Kenyans who have lost their loved ones to the disease saying, “We feel sad for the lives we have lost so to COVID-19 and urge you to join us in praying for their souls. Let us also show solidarity with those affected and infected.”

“No doubt the final solution rests in our prayers to God. Let us intensify our prayers asking Him to bring an end to this terrine pandemic,” representatives of religious leaders in Kenya further implore.