President Uhuru Kenyatta begun his busy schedule in New York Sunday, by meeting influential business and corporate leaders during dinner hosted by the Kenya Airways ahead of its inaugural direct flights between Nairobi and New York on 28 October. President Kenyatta who is in New York for the 2018 Annual United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) lauded the Kenya Airways and its partners for working together towards achieving what he called as a noble idea of having direct flights between Kenya and the US.
“On behalf of Kenyan people I thank the United States Government for working closely with us to make this realization,” said President Kenyatta during the dinner at Rockefeller Plaza in the high-end part of the New York, which is renown for its imposing skyscrapers. The top travel operators and investors attending the dinner were urged to seek partnerships to accelerate American investments in Kenya where the KQ direct flights open new frontiers in enhancing tourism, trade and investment opportunities.
The President who is scheduled to hold several other business and bilateral meetings with various stakeholders among them key investors appealed to the Kenyan Diaspora to take advantage of the direct flights friendly rates that significantly reduce the high fares through Europe. He said the new milestone by Kenya Airways would open Kenya to many more investors and tourists, thus strengthening the bonds of partnership between the two countries.
Kenya hopes to double the number of American tourists visiting the country to ensure the US remains the largest market of visitors holidaying in the country. The Head of State expressed his gratitude to the US Government for offering an opportunity for Kenya Airways to participate in the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Advisory Programme. “The programme will provide an on –site training and technical assistance on customs administration and border control for agencies that will handle Kenya Airways direct operations to the United States,” said President Kenyatta.
He said his Government had scaled up investments in aviation infrastructure in order to enable the industry play its critical role in boosting the growth of Kenya’s economy and to facilitate the movement of people and goods to the rest of Africa and the World. “To achieve this vision, I encourage Kenya airways to scale up its services and become the airline of choice in a very competitive industry. My administration has given you a strong platform to excel,” said the President.
He said the Government has invested heavily in time and resources to attain the International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) for Category I Status that allows direct flights to the USA by locally registered airlines and therefore expects the National carrier to seize the opportunity and become the true “Pride of Africa.” During the dinner, it emerged that President Kenyatta’s last trip to the US where he met President Donald Trump, Kenya concluded Kshs 85 billion worth of commercial deals and engagements with the public and private sector, which will help increase the Kshs 100 billion annual bilateral trade. The long-haul flights between Nairobi and New York will play a pivotal role in boosting economic partnership between the two countries.
KQ will operate daily flights between Nairobi-New York both ways. About 7,000 travellers, spread across the year, have already booked seats on Kenya Airways’ direct flights to New York ahead of the 28 October inaugural journey. Through the direct flights, Kenya Airways will offer its customers a unique travel experience between two great gateways.
It will be the fastest connection from East Africa to New York, with 15 hours duration eastbound and 14 hours westbound. Kenya Airways becomes the first airline to offer a non-stop flight between East Africa and the United States of America. The airline already serves Africa, Europe, Middle-East, Indian sub-continent and Asia. The opening of the US destination completes an essential piece for Kenya Airways’ network, cementing its position as one of the leading African carriers.
Kenya Airways Chairman Michael Joseph and the Chief Executive Sebastian Mikosz thanked the President for supporting the airline and walking the journey to realize the dream. The historic event was also attended by Cabinet Secretaries Monica Juma (Foreign Affairs), Peter Munya (industrialization), Transport Principal Secretary Esther Koimet, among other dignitaries.
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
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Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
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Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
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Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.