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3 pastors fighting ban over coronavirus get court date

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MAUREEN KAKAH

By MAUREEN KAKAH
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The High Court has certified as urgent a case in which three pastors want the ban on congregating lifted with measures put in place to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Justice James Makau issued the directive on Friday after Pastors Don Mutugi Majau, Joan Miriti and Alex Gichunge sued the Interior, Health and ICT Cabinet Secretaries, the Attorney-General together and the Inspector-General of Police.

Justice Makau set the hearing for April 16 and ordered the pastors to give copies of the case documents to the sued parties before close of business on April 14.

In the suit, the pastors acknowledge measures put in place by the government to stop the spread but argue that as the pandemic worsens, Kenyans will look to churches for solace.

They are protesting the directive against social gatherings that saw closure of churches, saying it was reached without consultations with relevant stakeholders.

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They also say the State imposed the curfew and the restriction on gatherings without consulting the church.

Had consultations taken place, the petitioners say, the public would have been sufficiently educated on social distancing and proper hygiene, peace and unity would have been promoted and food drives would have been held for the sake of the less fortunate.

“The petitioners [and] other believers are in no way approaching this court in efforts to spread the coronavirus. Their sole wish is to congregate whilst adhering to the directive issued,” said their lawyer John Swaka.

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He added, “The church’s role in such times is to give hope amid the crisis not only in this country but also in the world at large. They humbly seek the intervention of the court since their rights and freedoms are being infringed.”

The pastors further note that judges, doctors and journalists are risking their lives to serve Kenyans and that pastors should be added to the list of essential service providers.

While admitting that religious activities cannot continue as usual, the trio said clergymen, as essential service providers, cannot remain locked up yet they are required to serve the people and rally the nation, on their knees, in the fight against the deadly disease.

The religious leaders note that their services can go on with those in attendance wearing masks and gloves and using hand sanitisers.

They want churches allowed to conduct services with leaders compelled to ensure members adhere to guidelines for curbing spread of the virus.

The alternative, they say, is for the government to allow the broadcasting of services on specific days.

The case will be mentioned on April 16.

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Cop, four suspects held while trying to steal Sh28.5m from Busia bank: The Standard

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Detectives from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) have arrested five suspects including a police officer trying to withdraw cash from a Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) in Busia town.  
The five were arrested in Busia town and Ahero as they tried to withdraw Sh28.5 million from an account held at KCB Bank-Busia town.
“Five suspects including a police officer were today arrested in Busia town and Ahero (Kisumu County) after an attempt to withdraw Sh28.5 million from an account held at KCB Bank-Busia town branch backfired,” DCI said on Twitter.
SEE ALSO: New team to probe minors’ mysterious killings
Three suspects were arrested after the withdrawal forms they presented to KCB Busia branch manager did not tally with that of the account holder.
Bhavin Ramesh, Vijay Jamnaday and Desmond Lusweti were arrested after the bank tipped DCI officers after noting their trick.
“Arrest of three suspects followed a discrepancy noted in the transaction form presented to the branch manager that bore a different ID number,” said DCI.
Two other suspects Constable Kipkirui Tanui attached to Wilson Airport and an alleged city businessman Alex Kimeli were arrested while waiting for their colleagues to withdraw the cash.
After sensing danger, the two sped off towards Kisumu as they tried to escape but police caught up with them.
SEE ALSO: All-out assault on crime commendable
“Police Constable Kipkirui Tanui Kimeli an alleged businessman in Nairobi who had been waiting in a getaway car outside the banking hall were pursued and caught up with at Ahero.”

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Kenya: COVID-19 Recoveries Hit Record Low As Number of Infections Races Towards the Peak

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Week 16 saw the highest number of new cases reported in a day and the lowest number of recoveries registered in a month.

A pile-up of active cases might complicate Kenya’s fight against Covid-19 if the country continues reporting fewer recoveries at a time average daily new cases continue to grow, suggests a Nation Newsplex analysis of the country’s coronavirus data.

Only 232 people were reported to have recovered from the virus in Week 16 (June 26 to July 2) of the country’s journey through the pandemic. This was the lowest number in four weeks and close to a half the 437 people that were reported to have gotten well in week 13, when recoveries peaked before the numbers started to fall.

“The recovery rate should not worry you very much. I wish you concentrated on the case fatality rate because that will be telling you the quality of care that you provide to the people,” Mr Patrick Amoth, Health director-general, told journalists on Friday.

The number of people confirmed to have fully recovered dropped from an average of 62 per day to 33 in four weeks, even as the country’s average number of people reported to have contracted the virus shot up to 222 from 125 over the same period. Coincidentally, it is the same week in which the highest number of infections in a day was reported, 307 (on July 1), that the Ministry of Health also announced (on July 2) that 20 people recovered, the lowest number in a month.

The divergence between the infection and recovery curves has introduced a trend which, if not disrupted, will deliver a huge active Covid-19 caseload with the potential of firing up the infection rate and overwhelming the healthcare system.

That the country ranks 10th in Africa in number of cases (7,577) but climbs up five places to position five in number of active cases (5,182) gives the impression that alongside the swelling number of infections, the country is faced with a stubborn virus that seems to hang around for a little longer than is the case in many other African countries. A very low death rate too would partially explain a high number of active cases. For example, about a quarter of the 15,070 cases so far reported in Algeria are active, thanks to not only a recovery rate of 70 per cent, one of the highest in Africa, but also a high death rate of six per cent. However, a 100 per cent recovery rate and a zero per cent death rate are the most desirable results in fighting the pandemic.

Kenya has a death rate of two per cent, mirroring the continent’s share of infections that have resulted in death.

Many of the active cases in the country might be people who contracted the virus in the past few days and therefore may not have had enough time to recover. People with a mild attack of Covid-19 recover in about two weeks, while it takes about three to six weeks for those with severe or critical version of the disease to expel the virus from their body, according to the World Health Organization.

However, the fact that there are a number of countries that have reported high numbers of infection but managed to maintain relatively low figures of active cases might necessitate a re-examination of the Kenya’s Covid-19 treatment and management approach.

About seven in 10 (68 per cent) of Kenya’s reported cases are active. The number is higher than the continent’s 50 per cent. The share is only second to Egypt’s 69 per cent, among countries that have reported over 5,000 cases. The country has a recovery rate of 30 per cent, the 15th lowest rate in the continent and only higher than Egypt’s 27 per cent, among nations with 5,000 cases or more. The recovery rates in Africa and the world are 48 per cent and 56 per cent, respectively, according to data in the John Hopkins University Covid-19 portal.

A high and growing number of active cases has proven to be the surest way to getting the hospitals overwhelmed through increased admission and management of critical cases. However, the country has one thing going for it. “Available data in our country shows that 78 per cent of infected persons admitted to our hospitals are either asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic, and, therefore, can be managed at home, provided proper laid down procedures are followed” said Chief Administrative Secretary for Health, Dr Rashid Aman on June 10, when the Ministry of Health launched the home-based isolation and care guidelines. On the same day the ministry announced the highest number of recoveries in a day to date – 175.

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The Jitenge System stepped in to relieve health facilities of the mounting pressure brought about by the rapid growth of community transmission of the virus. It will see hospitals handle only serious conditions while households host and take care of asymptomatic patients and those with mild symptoms under strict conditions spelt out by the ministry.

However, even though the sharing of the disease burden between health facilities and communities would guarantee hospitals a lifeline, spreading out a high number of active cases into household might not yield the desired results if the guideline are breached. Since the country started fighting the pandemic in March, the government has repeatedly warned that indiscipline and a laissez-faire attitude are the biggest impediments to containment.

No need for alarm

According to the general trend displayed by countries that have gone past the most devastating stages of the disease’s progression curve, the journey to the peak involves a general growth of new case, death and recovery numbers reported every day. Kenya’s dwindling number of recoveries in peculiar, but the Health ministry says there is no need for alarm. “The recovery rate should not worry you very much. I wish you concentrated on the case fatality rate because that will be telling you the quality of care that you provide to the people,” Mr Patrick Amoth, Health director-general, told journalists on Friday.