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OPINION: How Kenyan Community Churches in US can help stop spread of Corona Virus

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BY JOHN NJOROGE

There is no doubt that Churches play a big role in ensuring spiritual nourishment of Kenyans while in countries of sojourn.

However, with the current situation where activities and congregations of people are being canceled or suspended due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, it is paramount that Kenyan-American church leaders and community leaders re-evaluate the same within the Kenyan-American community.

Before we start proclaiming Covid ishindwe, we need to know that we do not live in a vacuum and that most local governments will soon mandate or order non-congregation of people in public places.

Before this happens and out of abundance of caution, churches should implement immediate measures to combat spread of the virus.

Some of these measures include:

  • There should be professional cleaners sanitizing every area mostly used by the public
  • Nurses on hand with handheld thermometers to take temperature of Congregants (forehead version) and sending home anyone with any symptoms
  • Suspension of holy communion
  • Suspension of refreshments such as mandazi
  • The popular “Geithia mundu” song should be shelved for now or be played without accompanying greetings and handshakes

These measures might sound extreme but with an elderly population in our midst it is important to take every step necessary.

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Our churches need start thinking how to do outreach through video, or mitamboni. Soon it might be impossible to meet, and soul nourishment could be done electronically. Members can be availed to give offerings and tithing through WhatsApp.

Kenyans are procrastinators and these measures might not be in our foreseen future but with current developments will soon be a reality. Those best prepared are those with prior contingency plans.

Our health should be paramount while thinking about our destiny. Our elderly parents’ health need to be protected since they are prone to succumb to the Covid 19 virus more than any other age group.

-John Njoroge is a Kenyan living in the US.

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Diaspora

Kenyan passport still highly ranked amid Covid-19 pandemic

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The Kenyan passport has defied the Covid-19 pandemic to retain position 72 among the most powerful passports in the world, this according to a newly released Henley Passport Index.

The index, periodically measures the world’s most travel-friendly passports, based on the number of destinations their holders can access visa-free or visa-on-arrival.

VISA-FREE ACCESS

According to the latest index, the Japanese passport opens more doors than any other passport in the world.

The Japanese passport, offering visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 191 destinations around the world, topped the rankings, followed by Singapore (190 destinations) while the South Korean passport tied with the German passport in third place with a score of 189.

The Kenyan passport, whose holder can access 71 destinations around the world without a visa or visa-on-arrival, is ranked at seventh in the continent, behind Seychelles (151 destinations), Mauritius (145), South Africa (101), Botswana (82), Namibia (75), Lesotho (74), and Swaziland (72).

The Kenyan passport also commands a relatively high score in comparison to those from other East African countries.

Amanda Smit, the Managing Partner and Head of South, East, and Central Africa at Henley, hailed the Kenyan passport’s resilience in retaining its position.

TEMPORARY BANS

“The much-considered destinations are the ones which have effectively handled the coronavirus outbreak, and especially those which have declared themselves virus-free. International airline travel is still on halt, but it is to be expected that more people will look at various destinations to settle as soon as airspace is open,” she said.

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Research using exclusive historical data from the index has revealed that there is a strongly positive connection between visa freedom and a variety of indicators of economic freedom, government integrity, and personal or political freedom.

The Henley Passport Index is based on data provided by the International Air Transport Authority (IATA) and covers 199 passports and 227 travel destinations. It is updated in real time throughout the year, as and when visa policy changes come into effect.

Henley & Partners said the recent ranking did not take temporary bans into account.

The best passports to hold in 2020:

1. Japan (191 destinations)

2. Singapore (190)

3. South Korea, Germany (189)

4. Italy, Finland, Spain, Luxembourg (188)

5. Denmark, Austria (187)

6. Sweden, France, Portugal, Netherlands, Ireland (186)

7. Switzerland, United States, United Kingdom, Norway, Belgium (185)

8. Greece, New Zealand, Malta, Czech Republic (184)

9. Canada, Australia (183)

10. Hungary (181)

The worst passports to hold:

103. North Korea (39 destinations)

104. Libya, Nepal, Palestinian Territory (38)

105. Somalia, Yemen (33)

106. Pakistan (32)

107. Syria (29)

108. Iraq (28)

109. Afghanistan (26)

By Nairobi News

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No Quarantine for Passengers Flying to Kenya, Government says

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Transport CS James Macharia, on Wednesday, July 8, announced that passengers arriving in Kenya from other countries would not be forced to quarantine if they did not exhibit flu symptoms.

“All passengers shall be exempt from quarantine on arrival at their destinations if their body temperature is not above 37.5 degrees celsius and they do not have a persistent cough, difficulty in breathing and other flu-like symptoms.

“This is important because we do not expect a tourist to come from wherever they land here and then they are quarantined for 14 days,” the CS explained.

Speaking during a press briefing at Transcom House in Nairobi, CS Macharia revealed that the new protocols were aimed at encouraging tourism, one of the hardest-hit industries following the pandemic.

Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary James Macharia speaking at KICC on March 17, 2016.
Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary James Macharia speaking at KICC on March 17, 2016.
DAILY NATION

In addition, the CS explained that airline crew and passengers would be allowed to the airports and that all crew would be exempted from quarantine after a flight, if their body temperatures were below 37 degrees, and if there was no suspected Covid-19 case in the flight.

However, the crew is expected to be quarantined in case of a suspected case from the flight.

Passengers flying into the country will be allowed to be dropped and picked at the various airports past curfew hours, provided that they are able to present a boarding pass.

READ ALSO:   US tops world in coronavirus cases

With the resumption of air transport slated for July 15, 2020, as per President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive, CS Macharia revealed that only 5 airlines had so far confirmed that they would be operational.

The five were identified as Kenya Airways, Jambojet, Aim Air, Boskovic Air, and Scenic Safaris.

In case of a suspected case of COVID-19 on a flight, CS Macharia revealed that the passengers within two rows of the passenger with the symptoms would be tested. If their results turned out to be negative, they would be then allowed to leave the airport, however, the reverse would result in the passengers being quarantined in accordance with Ministry of Health guidelines.”

Watch CS Macharia’s briefing below:

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Diaspora

Kenyan students in the US to lose visas if their classes move online

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Kenyan students in the United States may soon be forced to return home if their colleges or universities opt for online learning only, as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

In a statement on Monday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that students on non-immigrant F-1 and M-1 visas who attend universities that operate entirely online amid the Covid-19 pandemic may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States.

FULL ONLINE COURSES

“Students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States,” said ICE.

The agency added that F-1 students who attend schools that provide a mixture of online and in-person classes will be permitted to take some online courses.

According to ICE, the schools must certify to the Student Exchange Visitor Program “that the program is not entirely online, that the student is not taking an entirely online course load and that the student is taking the minimum number of online classes required to make normal progress in their degree.”

F-1 students whose universities will maintain full in-person classes will remain bound by federal laws that allow a maximum of one class or three credit hours online.

IMMIGRATION CONSEQUENCES

READ ALSO:   US tops world in coronavirus cases

“Students who remain in the United States while taking only online courses could face immigration consequences, including the initiation of removal proceedings,” ICE said.

Last year, the number of Kenyans enrolled in US higher-education institutions rose by nearly four per cent, reaching a total of 3,451 students, according to a 2019 study published by a State Department Bureau and Institute of International Education, a New York-based NGO.

Africans overall account for 40,000 of the 1,095,000 international students in the US.

The updated guidance comes as schools in the US consider reopening amid the coronavirus pandemic, while imposing restrictions on students’ return that will force some students to stay off-campus and learn remotely for entire semesters at a time.

The ICE announcement comes at a time when the US leads the world in coronavirus caseload. More than 2.9 million Americans have contracted Covid-19 with 130,000 deaths reported.

By Nairobi News

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