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BY JOAN WANJIKU,NAIROBI,23RD MAY,2020-Kenya’s COVID-19 infections rose to 1,192 Saturday after President Uhuru Kenyatta announced 31 new cases.
He said the 57,650 tests have been conducted since March when the first infection was confirmed in the country on a student who had traveled in from the US through the UK.
“Coronavirus pandemic has and will continue to undermine our efforts to revitalize our economy for the unforeseeable future, indeed it is true as I have said before that the rate of infections may indeed surge upwards or fall if we fail to comply with the protocols issued by the Ministry of Health,” he said in an address from State House, when he announced a massive Sh53.7 billion stimulus package to revive the economy.
The Ministry of Health has projected Kenya’s COVID-19 peak to be in August or September when it will be recording at least 200 cases daily.
“We shall overcome this disease if and when we continue adhering to the regulations provided even at the time when measures such as lockdown and curfew are lifted,” the president said.
Globally there are close to 5.22 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and 338,000 deaths.
On Saturday, President Kenyatta said the new stimulus package is aimed at mitigating the effects of COVID-19 which has slowed the economy since March, rendering thousands jobless after many business were closed down.
The program focuses on key sectors among them infrastructure, education, health, agriculture and tourism.
Other sectors that will benefit from the 8-point stimulus programme include the SMEs sub-sector, environment and manufacturing.
“To combat the effects of this downturn, my administration has had to take additional measures. Today I am happy to announce the rolling out of my 8-point stimulus programme amounting to some Sh53.7 billion. The injection of this money into the economy will stimulate growth and cushion families and companies as together we navigate our way out of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Kenyatta said.
In an address to the nation from State House on Saturday, the president said he is keen to see the revival of the tourism industry and has set aside Sh2 billion to support renovation of facilities and the restructuring of business operations in the tourism industry.
Hotels in tourism destinations across the country remain closed since March when the country confirmed its first case of coronavirus.
During the presidential address, Kenyatta also revealed that the government is spending Sh250 million every week to support the vulnerable groups in the country who have been worst hit by the impact of coronavirus.
The Head of State said the government opted to use the cash transfer program as opposed to the traditional form of relief of providing physical foodstuffs.
A further Sh1 billion has also been set aside for flood control measures after devastating effects caused by heavy rains across the country.
“And to mitigate the impact of deforestation and climate change, and to enhance the provision of water facilities, my administration will rehabilitate wells, water pans and underground tanks in the Arid and Semi-Arid areas,” he said, setting aside Sh 850 million.
The government also intends to engage 5,500 community scouts under the Kenya Wildlife Service at a cost of Sh1 billion.
Additionally, he said, support will be made available to approximately 160 community conservancies at a cost of Sh1 billion.
There is also Sh3 billion set aside for the supply of farm inputs through e-vouchers, targeting 200,000 small scale farmers, with a further, Sh 1.5 billion allocated to the flower and horticultural producers to access international markets.