Claims that residents of Nairobi are sneaking out of the city back to their rural villages in Garissa have left authorities concerned that the trend could aid the spread of the coronavirus.
Nairobi, Mombasa, Kilifi, Kwale and Mandera counties have been put in partial lockdown to control the spread of the virus.
Last week, the government ordered a lockdown in Nairobi’s Eastleigh estate and Old Town in Mombasa after they showed a steady spike in infections.
But there are claims people are still sneaking out of Eastleigh, the virus hotspot in Nairobi, to their villages in Garissa and other parts of Northeastern Kenya.
Garissa Governor Ali Korane on Monday said it was unfortunate that people were being trafficked out of Eastleigh in Nairobi to Garissa despite the lockdown and President Uhuru Kenyatta’s order on cessation of movement in and out of the city.
“The cessation of movement in Eastleigh is meant for the good of the people of Eastleigh and the country at large. If we obey government guidelines on how to prevent the disease from spreading, we shall defeat it within a short period for the country to return to normalcy,” Korane said.
He was speaking at Iftin Primary School where he witnessed the distribution of Ramadhan food rations to 300 vulnerable families. The beneficiaries also received free face masks.
“If we continue defying government directives, then it will take even longer to stop the disease that has crippled the country’s economy,” Korane said.
The governor urged Eastleigh residents to remain where they are to avoid transmitting the disease to their loved ones in Garissa. He said sneaking into the village was worsening an already bad situation.
He also asked livestock traders who have been crossing into neighbouring Somalia to buy livestock to stop the trade forthwith.
Somalia is among countries with the highest number of cases in the Eastern Africa region.
Wajir already has nine confirmed cases of Covid-19. The cases are livestock traders who crossed into Somalia.
The government has directed all border counties to immediately close all livestock markets.
More than 6,000 vulnerable families are targeted in the Garissa Ramadhan food distribution programme.
On Friday, Deputy Governor Abdi Dagane launched the programme by distributing the food rations that include cooking oil, sugar, corn soya blended with sugar, wheat and maize flour.
Korane said the number of beneficiaries could be scaled up because of the coronavirus pandemic that has worsened the economic hardships for many residents.
He said floods have also affected many residents.
The governor later visited Najah Children’s home where he announced that the county government will take care of the upkeep of the orphans.
The centre is home to 300 orphaned boys.