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Saturday, March 28th, 2020

 

Kenya’s other viruses: Prayer, pestilence and blatant hypocrisy


Laws to fight Covid-19 are necessary but not all are constitutional

SEKOU OWINOBy SEKOU OWINO
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The fear of the Covid-19 pandemic and its potential spread, with the risk that the fatalities seen so far all over world could increase, has led to most countries and governments taking various administrative and legal actions to contain it.

For instance, Kenyans now have to contend with a curfew that restricts movement other than for designated essential service providers such as police and healthcare workers between the 7pm and 5am.

Many feel – and I share the view – that the pestilential challenge of Covid-19 might justify the limitation of civil liberties in the short term.

Kenya is not an outlier in this regard. South Africa has instituted a virtual no-movement lockdown for at least 21 days under the “State of Disaster Regulations”.

These Regulations empower the Minister of Police to issue directions to address the prevention of the spread of Covid-19 infections among people working in police stations or those within the cells.

Under these regulations, citizens are supposed to be confined to their homes for the entire period.

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The only permitted exceptions are errands for the purchase of food, seeking healthcare or for collection of welfare cheques.

To ensure compliance, the South African government has appointed “spotters” or spies to look out and inform the authorities where this law is disobeyed.

SOCIAL DISTANCING

But some of the measures proposed in the regulations are contentious and border on human rights violations.

The law permits the National Institute of Communicable Diseases to get information from the mobile phone operators on the whereabouts of subscribers to help them monitor areas that may be at the risk of the Covid-19 spread.

In the United Kingdom, the Coronavirus Bill passed by the parliament last week empowers the police, public health and immigration officials to direct a suspected Covid-19 carrier to a screening centre, with powers to confine them if they decline.

The law also gives powers to the officials to restrict events and gatherings in premises.

In France, the Covid-19 legislation bans any meetings or indoor gatherings of more than 500 people.

While social distancing is taken further in France, but only with recommendation that the favourite French custom, la blise, that is the greetings of a person by kisses on the cheeks, be avoided for the time being.

In Kenya, under the Public Health Act, the Cabinet Secretary in charge of health services has fairly wide powers with regard to containing infectious diseases.

COLONIAL ATTITUDE

He may direct any person suffering from an infectious disease to be taken for testing and confined in a hospital or designated healthcare centre for treatment.

The CS may also prohibit persons from visiting each other in their private homes.

Defiance of these directives would constitute criminal offences, for which there would be a fine and or imprisonment on conviction.

This law also allows the minister to prohibit the entry into Kenya of a ship or any vessel during a pandemic, unless the persons therein are quarantined to avoid the importation of infections.

The truth is that some of these laws have a draconian core. The Public Health Act of Kenya, being the law that is being applied on the frontline of containing the Covid-19 pandemic, was first enacted in 1921.

Though it has been amended several times since, it retains the colonial attitude of power and control, with a public order bent rather than a health management one.

In India, the law that the states have used to draw regulations that are applied to contain the spread of Covid-19 is over a century old: The Indian Epidemic Diseases Act was first enacted in 1897 by the British colonial government with the intention of containing the spread of the Bubonic Plague in the state of Bombay, today’s Mumbai.

PERSONAL LIBERTIES

When you see persons being charged with spreading falsehoods about an epidemic in Kenya today, it is to this law you may trace thinking behind such censorship.

These regulations and measures come at a great cost to the public in terms of personal liberties, but are generally acceptable on the ground: that there is far greater danger to the individual and society if the infectious disease was to spread.

That is why breach or failure to comply would attract serious criminal penalty.

However, some of the criminal dimensions of these regulations must be enforced with care because many populations may stand them only for a given, short period.

If implemented with abandon, then the point of inflection may be reached fairly quickly then the people begin to resist the risk of enslavement in the yearning to regain their liberties.

The writer is head of legal, Nation Media Group PLC


Maroc : Les professionnels du tourisme tirent la sonnette d’alarme

Publié le 29.03.2020 à 00h18 par APA

Le secteur du tourisme au Maroc est durement touché par la pandémie du coronavirus avec des pertes estimées à plus de 3,2 milliards d’euros (34,1 milliards DH) en termes de chiffre d’affaires touristiques en 2020 et de plus de 1,3 milliards d’euros (14 milliards DH) de perte en termes de chiffre d’affaires pour l’hôtellerie, selon la Confédération nationale du tourisme (CNT).Dans son étude sur l’impact du Covid-19 sur le tourisme, la CNT prévoit une chute globale de près de 6 millions de touristes, qui occasionneront une perte totale de 11,6 millions de nuitées.

Pas moins de 500.000 emplois et 8.500 entreprises seraient menacés, dont des entreprises d’hébergement touristiques classées, des entreprises de restauration touristique, des agences de voyages, des sociétés de transport touristique et des sociétés de location de voitures.

La banque CFG Maroc a estimé les effets d’une baisse des arrivées touristiques à 39% en 2020 et des nuitées à 30% par rapport à 2019, en supposant que la contre-performance des touristes étrangers serait partiellement compensée par la performance des touristes nationaux.

Selon une note de la délégation européenne au Maroc, l’activité économique du Maroc sera incontestablement impactée par le  repli de l’économie européenne sachant que les échanges avec l’UE représentent plus de 58% des exportations marocaines. 59% du stock d’IDE, 70% des recettes touristiques et 69% des transferts des Marocains résidant à l’étranger (MRE).

En tant qu’économie axée sur la consommation, le commerce et le tourisme, le Maroc pourrait connaître des pertes importantes en 2020. Jusqu’à présent, les principaux secteurs touchés sont le tourisme, l’automobile et le textile.

Sur le plan de de la croissance, la note de la délégation européenne s’est basée sur de nouvelles données, à savoir la réunion trimestrielle du conseil d’administration de la Banque centrale marocaine, décidant de revoir à la baisse ses prévisions de croissance nationale pour 2020 de 3,8% à 2,3%.

Pour le volet consommation et investissement, la note relève une hausse du taux de chômage suite au gel des activités des entreprises ainsi qu’aux mesures sanitaires prises comme le confinement. Une baisse de la consommation des ménages et de l’investissement devrait être attendue, prévient la note.

Des risques d’approvisionnement au niveau du marché marocain en intrants importés et de baisse de la demande étrangère restent, néanmoins, envisageables. De plus, la crise pourrait impacter le commerce extérieur du Maroc qui représente 32% du PIB. Au niveau de la balance commerciale, un ralentissement des exportations reste aussi probable au vu de la perturbation des chaînes d’approvisionnement, de l’allongement des délais de traitement des dossiers et de la baisse de la demande étrangère adressée au Maroc.


Joseph Lowery, civil rights leader and MLK aide, dies at 98

The Rev. Joseph Lowery speaks during a press conference with a coalition of civil rights and attorneys groups saying African-American judges are disappearing from the bench in one of Georgia’s most heavily-populated black counties and being replaced by white appointees Thursday, May 24, 2012, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

ATLANTA (MaraviPost) — The Rev. Joseph E. Lowery fought to end segregation, lived to see the election of the country’s first black president and echoed the call for “justice to roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream” in America.

For more than four decades after the death of his friend and civil rights icon, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the fiery Alabama preacher was on the front line of the battle for equality, with an unforgettable delivery that rivaled King’s — and was often more unpredictable. Lowery had a knack for cutting to the core of the country’s conscience with commentary steeped in scripture, refusing to back down whether the audience was a Jim Crow racist or a U.S. president.

“We ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get in back; when brown can stick around; when yellow will be mellow; when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right,” Lowery prayed at President Barack Obama’s inaugural benediction in 2009.

Lowery, 98, died Friday at home in Atlanta, surrounded by family members, they said in a statement.

He died from natural causes unrelated to the coronavirus outbreak, the statement said.

“Tonight, the great Reverend Joseph E. Lowery transitioned from earth to eternity,” The King Center in Atlanta remembered Lowery in a Friday night tweet. “He was a champion for civil rights, a challenger of injustice, a dear friend to the King family.”

Lowery led the Southern Christian Leadership Conference for two decades — restoring the organization’s financial stability and pressuring businesses not to trade with South Africa’s apartheid-era regime — before retiring in 1997.

Considered the dean of civil rights veterans, he lived to celebrate a November 2008 milestone that few of his movement colleagues thought they would ever witness — the election of an African-American president.

At an emotional victory celebration for President-elect Barack Obama in Atlanta, Lowery said, “America tonight is in the process of being born again.”

Sources: AP Yahoo News

The post Joseph Lowery, civil rights leader and MLK aide, dies at 98 appeared first on The Maravi Post.


Covid-19: 39 nouveaux cas en Côte d’Ivoire portant le nombre d’infectés à 140 (officiel)

Publié le 28.03.2020 à 23h18 par APA

Le nombre de personnes contaminées au Coronavirus (Covid-19) en Côte d’Ivoire a atteint samedi 140 cas avec 39 nouveaux cas enregistrés dont trois cas guéris, selon un communiqué du ministre ivoirien de la Santé et de l’hygiène publique, Aka Aouélé.« Ce samedi 28 mars 2020, 39 cas d’infection à Covid-19 ont été enregistrés portant à 140 le nombre total de cas confirmés », indique un communiqué du ministère ivoirien de la Santé et de l’hygiène publique, lu à la RTI 1, la télévision nationale. 

Au regard de la progression de la contamination du Covid-19, le chef de l’Etat ivoirien Alassane Ouattara a décrété l’isolement de la ville d’Abidjan,  une mesure qui devrait rentrer en vigueur dimanche.  

De ce fait, le ministère de la Santé et de l’hygiène publique a mis en place des équipes de contrôle sanitaire aux différents postes de sortie d’Abidjan. Et ce, pour prendre le pool de santé des populations en déplacement pour éviter la propagation du virus. 

Devant les signes de fièvre, toux, courbatures ou de difficultés respiratoires, il est conseillé aux populations de contacter des numéros gratuits (143, 101 et le 125). En outre, des équipes d’intervention rapide sont dépêchées pour la prise en charge des cas suspects.     

L’épidémie à Covid-19 à une contamination rapide. Dans ce contexte, les autorités ivoiriennes invitent les populations à réduire leur déplacement tout en intégrant dans leur quotidien les mesures sanitaires édictées. 


La santé de l’opposant ivoirien Alain Lobognon ne suscite aucune inquiétude, (Administration pénitentiaire)

Publié le 28.03.2020 à 23h18 par APA

Le directeur de l’administration pénitentiaire ivoirienne Coulibaly Boubacar a indiqué, samedi, que l’état de santé d’Alain Lobognon, un député proche de Guillaume Soro en détention depuis décembre dernier, ne suscite « aucune inquiétude» contrairement aux affirmations de ses avocats.«(…) L’administration pénitentiaire tient à rassurer que l’état de santé de M. Alain Lobognon ne suscite aucune inquiétude et trouve infondé l’appel à sa mise en liberté», a affirmé M. Coulibaly dans un communiqué, soulignant que son institution n’entend plus tolérer davantage les récurrentes rumeurs tendant à jeter le discrédit sur ses animateurs et au-delà sur l’ensemble de l’institution judiciaire.

Poursuivant, M. Coulibaly a annoncé qu’une suite judiciaire sera réservée à la divulgation de «fausses nouvelles » sur les conditions de détention et l’état de santé des pensionnaires des établissements pénitentiaires.

Jeudi dernier dans un communiqué, le collectif des avocats du député Alain Lobognon en détention depuis décembre dernier pour « diffusion de fausses nouvelles » ont affirmé que celui-ci est dans un état sanitaire « extrêmement critique, méconnaissable, affaibli et amaigri ».

Depuis décembre dernier après le retour avorté à Abidjan de Guillaume Soro, l’ex-président de l’Assemblée nationale ivoirienne, plusieurs députés et élus locaux de son mouvement «Générations et peuples solidaires» (GPS), son mouvement politique, sont en détention pour «diffusion de fausses nouvelles ».


Punish police officers abusing curfew order

EDITORIALBy EDITORIAL
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The government must own up and take action on police officers who brutalised Kenyans on the first night of the curfew on Friday.

President Uhuru Kenyatta, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe and Inspector-General of Police Hillary Mutyambai have to take responsibility and apologise to Kenyans.

When the president declared that the government would impose a curfew from Friday, he did not declare a state of emergency.

Neither did he suspend the Constitution. Nor were police officers given a carte blanche to do as they wish.

A curfew does not equate to vindictiveness and cruelty. It only means restriction of movement within a specified period of time.

Conversely, citizens have a duty to obey legitimate orders, especially during the current health crisis. And those transgressing must face penalties, which are spelt out in law.

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The role of the police is to enforce the rule of law, not to break it. Neither are they allowed to take the law into their hands.

DISREGARD OF ORDER

What we witnessed on Friday was horrendous. The alacrity and viciousness with which police officers descended on the citizens was frightening.

They did not even care to distinguish between those who were exempt – providers of essential services – and those breaching the rules.

To be sure, an NTV journalist on duty was clobbered by a belligerent police officer in Mombasa. Reason and common sense was thrown out of the window.

Police officers visited violence and mayhem when they could, at worst, easily arrest and lock up those who breached the curfew rules.

Some scenarios, like in Mombasa, where police hurled tear gas and beat up ferry commuters, were unjustified.

Worse, challenged over such incidents, police spokesman Charles Owino was bellicose. He rubbed salt into injury, stating that the police had reason to use force to disperse commuters.

Nothing could be insulting. It served to reinforce the perception that the police’s base instinct is to brutalise, not observe and enforce the law.

POLICE REFORMS

Which takes us back to the dark days when the police were an instrument of raw force.

This is the reason police reform was a top agenda in the campaign towards constitutional change.

Hence, the Constitution 2010 made deliberate attempts to reorient the institution, changing it from a force to police service, ostensibly to give it a new sheen and put it on a path to reconstruction and renewal.

But from the way they behave and carry out their duties, it is clear that what was envisaged has not been achieved and if pronouncements from the top officers are anything to go by, the vision may never be realised.

Police brutality has unfortunately created an unnecessary distraction. At this point in time, the rallying call should be on fighting a virulent pandemic that is ravaging the world and for which drastic measures are inescapable.

We all agreed that bold decisions have to be taken to contain the spread of the virus. Precisely, the objective of the curfew is to minimise public interaction and contain spread of coronavirus.

That became necessary because the infections have been rising steadily since the first case was reported two weeks ago.

SAFETY TIPS

On Saturday, the figure hit 38, with fears that the number may still rise and push the country into a crisis as witnessed in other countries such as Italy, Spain, France and the US.

Thus, every person has an obligation to stem the spread through keeping social distance and avoiding public places where contact could cause infection.

Kenyans are now acutely aware of the devastation of the coronavirus pandemic.

Deaths recorded abroad and locally, the stretch on health systems and economic depression arising from the plague are grim illustrations of its impact. No society is exempt.

The virus does not understand social classes; it strikes indiscriminately. Its surest cure is avoiding infection, which is mainly achieved through proper hygiene and keeping social distance.

Individuals have to stay at home and the curfew must be observed. As the World Health Organisation and the government have repeatedly asserted, controlling infection is an individual and collective responsibility.

COMMUNAL EFFORT

Everyone has a duty to stop coronavirus spread. Carelessness and recklessness are unacceptable.

Getting public buy-in is vital here. Mr Kagwe has done pretty well to realise that. But enter the police and the goodwill is vapourised.

What the government wanted to achieve has been demolished by the crude acts of police officers.

We condemn the police brutality and ask for restraint. Never should the police behave the way they did. They are not at war with citizens.

Ours is not a savage state where those charged with enforcing the law violate it with impunity.

Ultimately, the public must obey government directives. Those found contravening curfew regulations should be seized and charged in court.

Everyone should stay indoors, observe hygiene protocols and keep safe. There are no two ways of stopping the pandemic.


What is Covid-19 and why is it wreaking so much havoc?

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Kenya's coronavirus cases rise to 38 as 7 more test positive

NASIBO KABALE By NASIBO KABALE
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The number of people in Kenya who have tested positive for the Covid-19 disease has risen to 38, the Ministry of Health said Saturday.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said seven more people had tested positive for the new coronavirus following analysis of 81 suspected cases in the last 24 hours.

They are four Kenyans, two Congolese and a Chinese citizen. Three of them are female and four male.

“Out of the seven, four had a history of traveling from countries with active transmission, one had travelled from Mombasa while two did not have a travel history,” he said.

CS Kagwe announced that Nairobi was still leading with 28 confirmed cases followed by Kilifi with six, Mombasa with two and Kwale and Kajiado with one each.

“The trend we have seen on increasing numbers is not a healthy one,” he said, and reiterated the need for members of the public to adhere to measures the government has taken to curb spread of the virus.

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Regarding testing, the minister announced that 833 had been tested so far.

Mr Kagwe said Kenya’s first and third patients tested negative in their first retesting and that a third round of testing would follow in 48 hours.

He said contact tracing was ongoing and that out of 1,141 people who were being monitored closely, 163 were discharged after a 14-day follow-up period, leaving 978.

The ministry said that starting Sunday, people who arrived in the country last week will undergo mass testing.

While referring to Nairobi, he said, “There’s no single estate untouched by the 28 people mentioned and as we start mass testing we will get more positive cases.”

CS Kagwe also announced that he had undergone testing and that the result was negative.

He also said his son and a niece were under the mandatory quarantine.

According to a Reuter tally, the number of infections worldwide stood at at least 551,000 as at March 27 while the number of people who had died was 24,885.

As part of steps to prevent spread of the deadly virus, Kenya enforced an indefinite 7pm to 5am curfew starting Friday.

The first day was chaotic as some commuters were stranded at bus stops during the rush hour after work, with public transporters adhering to the directive.

Police in various locations were also pictured and recorded caning people who defied the curfew, raising the issue of brutality.

CS Kagwe did not speak in detail about the curfew but noted, “If we want to save Kenyans and avoid the experiences in other countries, we must social-distance and stay at home when told to.”

He also said, “If employers can stagger the working hours, we can reduce congestion in the city. Those queuing for public transport should observe social distancing.”

Regarding calls for a lockdown, he noted that the public is still struggling with a curfew.

“We must follow rules or expect tougher times ahead. Let’s work together to avoid a total and complete outbreak,” the CS said.

“The measures we are taking are to ensure we don’t get to a lockdown. We will look at all scenarios before we get to that. The biggest key to stopping the virus is changing behaviour, keeping distance and obeying directives,” he added.


Coronavirus: 3 in Siaya test negative, 247 under quarantine

DICKENS WASONGABy DICKENS WASONGA
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Coronavirus tests on three people in Siaya County have returned negative results, Governor Cornel Rasanga announced on Saturday.

Mr Rasanga said samples for the tests were taken to the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) in Kisumu County on Wednesday and Thursday.

The governor also announced that the county’s emergency response team tracked down 247 people from high risk areas and advised them to self-quarantine.

He urged residents to adhere to the government’s guidelines on containing spread of the deadly virus.

MEDICAL SUPPLIES

Meanwhile, the county has received more medical supplies to help protect medical workers handling suspected cases of the Covid-19 disease.

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They include 4,000 bottles of sanitisers, 200 surgical masks, 1,000 face masks, 10 disposable medical clothing, 10 goggles and face shields.

Also among them are 1000 pairs of examination masks, gloves, gumboots and gowns.

Mr Rasanga said the items had already been dispatched to all the six sub-counties in Siaya as part of integrated efforts by the national government, Unicef and other well-wishers to enhance preparedness.

The county has also identified the Siaya campus of the Kenya Medical Training College as a quarantine site.

COUNTY MEASURES

To cushion businesses, Siaya has suspended all market-related fees for one month. A review will take place after this period.

Bus park levies have also been suspended on condition that matatu operators adhere to the requirement to carry fewer passengers.

“Payments for single business permits have also been extended by one month, from March 31 to April  30, to give traders time to raise the money,” Governor Rasanga said

He also announced a 30 per cent pay cut for himself and his deputy, 20 per cent for his cabinet, 15 per cent for chief officers and 10 per cent for county directors for the April – June period.