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VIDEO: Uhuru lifts ban on alcohol sale in restaurants

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In new orders following a review of the pandemic in Kenya, and in his eleventh national address on the pandemic, the President Uhuru Keanyatta has, among other things, lifted the ban on the sale of alcohol by licensed restaurants and also extended the closure of bars and night clubs for another 30 days.

“In the next 30 days, bar owners, in consultation with the Ministry of Health will develop self-regulating mechanisms as part of their civic responsibility to their clientele, in order to allow their resumption,” Uhuru said in his address to the nation Tuesday.

He also extended the nationwide curfew by another 30 days even as he noted a decrease in Covid-19 infections in the country.
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The maximum number of persons allowed to attend funerals and weddings has been extended from 15 to 100. All persons are however required to observe the Covid-19 protocols as stipulated by the Ministry of Health.

The closing time for restaurants and eateries has been increased to 8pm from 8am effective tomorrow, Thursday.

The president has also lifted the countrywide second-hand clothes ban, adding that details of how this will be operated will be announced tomorrow.

He has also directed Interior CS Fred Matiang’i in conjunction with the chairperson of the Council of Governors to convene an inclusive National Consultative Conference in three weeks, to review the national and county Covid-19 response, in order to chart Kenya’s post-Covid future.

Both Sports and Health Ministry will also issue guidelines on the gradual resumption of sporting events.

On the Kemsa Covid equipment scam, he said, there will be no mercy for corrupt officials found guilty in the alleged impropriety in the acquisition of Covid-19  protective gear.

Uhuru has further ordered that all relevant authorities tasked with investigating corruption to expedite the process and conclude probe into the matter within 21 days.

“In line with our stated public policy on Zero Tolerance to Corruption, all persons found to be prima facie culpable as a result of those investigations should be brought to book, notwithstanding the public office they hold, or their political or social status,” he asserted.

On August 14, three top Kemsa managers were suspended following a probe into claims of impropriety in the acquisition of Covid-19 equipment.

Chief Executive Officer Jonah Manjari, Procurement Director Charles Juma and his Commercial counterpart Eliud Muriithi are being investigated in relation to among others, controversial Sh7.7 billion tender for the emergency procurement of Covid-19 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that was to be delivered by July 22, 2020.

The agency has dominated the headlines lately following claims of questionable tenders awarded to powerful individuals. EACC is also investigating the construction of a warehouse by Kemsa at Sh5 billion.

On July 27, the president extended the curfew for another 30 days but relaxed the hours to between 9pm and 4am from 7pm to 5am. He cited increased Covid-19 infections which he said have risen since he eased the pandemic’s containment measures on July 6, 2020.

The president had addressed the nation from Statehouse Nairobi, after meeting all governors.

Uhuru then further directed there would be no sale of alcohol effective for 30 days in eateries and bars across the country.

President Uhuru had also directed that all bars would be closed until further notice. The Head of State then directed Inspector General  Hillary Mutyambai to withdraw permanently operating licenses of all bars that would breach of the regulations.In the July address, the tenth on the Covid crisis,  he also ordered the IG not to spare any politician who would breach the Ministry of Health protocols. “All measures will be for all Kenyans regardless of an individual’s status,” he directed.

He also directed police to enforce Ministry of Health guidelines in public gatherings and funerals.

 

FULL SPEECH

 

Fellow Kenyans,
Thirty days ago, on July 27th 2020, I promised to appraise and, where necessary, to escalate or de-escalate the steps taken so far to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
I promised to do so because most of these steps were conditional. Whether they worked or not depended on how we responded to them individually and collectively as a nation and as a people.
Today, I am happy to note that majority of Kenyans have exercised a reasonable level of civic responsibility in observing COVID Protocols. They have embraced the fact that, it is not enough for government to upscale its efforts, if the citizens do not upscale their engagements as well. They understood that, indeed, a challenge like COVID-19 requires citizens to partner with their governments in finding solutions to contain such a challenge.
And because of taking this challenge seriously and more importantly partnering with the government, infections have gotten to a manageable level. In fact, we are reporting more recoveries in some instances than infections. Hot spots like Mombasa and Nairobi have begun to stabilize.
Our experts have indicated that levels of positivity rate country-wide have fallen from 13% in June to 8% in August 2020.
This is very encouraging and it means that, if we keep our civic responsibility high, we have a chance to reach the 5% positivity rate recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) for total re-opening.
In that regard, as at this morning, the confirmed COVID-19 cases have risen by 213, bringing the aggregate to 33,016. We mourn the 5 lives lost over the last 24 hours.
Amid this tragedy, we remain thankful that we have over the same period, recorded 241 recoveries, bringing our total number of recoveries to 19,296, marking a recovery rate of 58%.
Fellow Kenyans,
We note the good progress we have made so far in fighting this enemy, but, this positive news is no license for us to drop guard and backslide from our path of responsibility.
Indeed, and as I have mentioned in the past, we are fighting a war against an invisible enemy. And as we enter the sixth month of this war, we are also entering a phase known as the ‘Fog of War’.
In this phase, the ‘combat arena’ is foggy. And in this ‘Fog of War’, the first instinct is that of self-preservation. You fight to propagate yourself, your family and the environment that nurtures you. And in this ‘foggy’ state, you also become aware that the government CANNOT police the morality of its citizens.
In fact, in the ‘Fog of War’, citizens while maintaining their liberties, scramble for their survival.
In sum, what will save us all in this war is the exercise of civic responsibility. And I must emphasize here again that, there are no unbearable responsibilities in the face of a crisis like COVID-19.
Fellow Kenyans,
Let me be clear; when I talk about ‘responsibility’ I do not mean “who carries the burden”. Responsibility is not a burden; it is a civic duty. Instead of seeing it as something you carry, you must see it as a joyous task.
It is a happy debt you pay to your fellow citizens for being a member of their community; the price you pay to propagate yourself, your family and country.
Fellow Kenyans,
Although we have done well in our attempt to flatten the curve, there are two challenges that have continued to stifle our efforts.
First, while our determination to manage the spread of this pandemic in cities like Nairobi and Mombasa has started to pay dividends, the crisis has however begun to percolate to the counties. The new frontier of this invisible enemy is increasingly shifting to the counties and rural areas.
Whereas there is no doubt, notable expansion of the health sector architecture has taken place in the counties, more needs to be done. And the pace of this expansion should be increased in order to cope with the gradual shift of this pandemic to the counties.
Given this challenge, and the need to anchor Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in the expanding health architecture, I direct the following:
i. That the Cabinet Secretary for Health, acting jointly with the Chairperson of Council of Governors, shall constitute a National Reference Group on COVID-19, to review the efficacy of our response to this pandemic so far. The group should record Lessons Learnt and feed them back into the sector nationally and in counties.
ii. The Group should formulate strategies to identify institutional weaknesses within healthcare system at both tiers; recommend ways to increase the representation of the County Governments in the Boards of Healthcare Agencies; and recommend ways in which our national responses to healthcare emergencies can be improved.
iii. The National Reference Group on COVID-19 should position healthcare as a driver of our manufacturing agenda by ensuring that preference is given to local manufacturers in the procurement of pharmaceuticals and non-pharmaceutical products.
iv. The National Reference Group on COVID-19 should expand their ongoing work and establish the Kenya COVID Vaccine Consortium, bringing together relevant stakeholders locally and internationally, to sharpen their focus on the development and testing of COVID-19 vaccine locally.
Following the allegations of impropriety at the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA), the relevant investigative agencies are fully seized with the matter.
Given the compelling public interest on the matter, the relevant agencies should expedite the ongoing investigations and conclude the same within 21 days from the date hereof.
Fellow Kenyans,
In line with our stated public policy on Zero Tolerance to Corruption, all persons found to be prima facie culpable as a result of those investigations should be brought to book, notwithstanding the public office they hold, or their political or social status.
Fellow Kenyans,
The pandemic before us poses an individual crisis, a health crisis and an economic crisis. If the cure for the crisis is civic responsibility, and we have done well in that area; there are some good returns as well from the economic sector.
While this pandemic continues to present us with various unprecedented challenges, we must always remember that Kenya is a work in progress. This is why we must celebrate the good returns even as we continue to battle the challenges before us.
Since March of this year, I have given ten addresses over the COVID-19 pandemic and this is the eleventh one. And in the ten addresses, I have made certain directives to cushion our economy and enhance the purchasing power of our people.
The notable one is the tax cuts we announced in March 2020. These have put 47.8 billion shillings in the pockets of Kenyans, including 14 billion shillings VAT refunds as I directed in March of 2020.
Reviewing the results today, I must admit that we have done better than we expected. For instance, even under COVID, the economy has grown by 4.6% compared to 5.5% last year.
And inflation is lower today at 4.4% compared to 6.3% during the same period last year; the current economic indicators are far better than we anticipated.
But the inspiring successes amongst us have been those that have used the COVID crisis to re-imagine their conditions. The banking sector, for instance, has begun to re-tool and humanize its model. Instead of focusing on profits, it has re-engineered its model to focus on the customer.
Government institutions like Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) have also remodeled their approach. Instead of destroying 1.5 Million Litres of illicit ethanol in their custody, they had it converted into hand sanitizers.
But the most inspiring story of re-imagining your circumstances during this COVID crisis is from a proprietor of a big school that closed. In order to meet his obligations with banks and other suppliers, one, Joseph Kungu, turned his school into a farm, rearing chicken and producing food.
Our exporters too are re-tooling and turning the challenge into promise. For example, our Fruits and Horticulture farmers, saw our horticulture earnings jump to Ksh. 81 billion between January and June, 2020 compared to Ksh. 76 billion for a similar period in 2019. Earnings from fruits alone nearly doubled from Ksh. 7 billion to Ksh. 12 billion.
What these examples of re-tooling business in times of crisis teach us is that: a crisis “…represents both danger and opportunity”. And those who horrify themselves with the danger, will NOT survive. But those who choose to exploit the opportunities presented by the crisis, become the heroes of the moment.
Fellow Kenyans,
In order to secure the achievements we have made so far and build on them for the future, I further order and direct as follows:
i. One, the Cabinet Secretary for Interior and Coordination of National Government in conjunction with the Chairperson of the Council of Governors, shall, in three weeks, convene an inclusive National Consultative Conference to review our national and county covid response and together with all stakeholders, chart Kenya’s post-covid future.
v. Two, that the closure of bars and nightclubs is continued for a further 30 days. However, the prohibition against the sale of alcohol by licensed hotels with residence is vacated. In the next 30 days, bar owners, in consultation with the Ministry of Health will develop self-regulating mechanisms as part of their civic responsibility to their clientele, in order to allow their resumption.
vi. Three, that the closing time for restaurants and eateries be and is hereby varied by one hour from 7pm to 8pm, effective 27th August, 2020.
vii. Four, in accordance with the recommendations of the Inter-Faith Council, the maximum number of persons permitted to attend funerals and weddings is reviewed upwards to 100, with all in attendance abiding with Ministry of Health Protocols.
viii. Five, the ban on the sale of second-hand clothing, otherwise known as ‘mitumba’, is herewith lifted. Details of how this will operated and the protocols for the same will be announced by the Government tomorrow.
ix. Six, that the Ministry of Sports, Culture & Heritage and the Ministry of Health will jointly issue guidelines on the gradual resumption of sporting events in Kenya.
x. Seven, that the Nationwide Curfew that is currently in force between the hours of 9pm and 4am daily, be and is hereby extended by a further 30 days.
Fellow Kenyans,
In concluding my remarks, today, let me say something about our Constitution. Tomorrow, the 27th of August 2020 marks the tenth year since we promulgated our new constitution.
This constitution has been hailed, the world-over, as one of the most progressive in the world. And this is because it is an embodiment of what a social contract between people of different origins and their government, should be.
But I must remind us all of one thing: “…If our past is constantly at war with our present, we end up losing our future”. And the spirit of this constitution was meant to reconcile our past with the present in order to secure our future.
But the crafters of this social contract also told us that the new constitution was a ‘work in progress’. And as such, we were made to adopt it with the promise that in the future, we will make it better.
Ten years later, the moment to improve on it is – NOW. And as I said in my Madaraka Day Speech, we must not succumb to the paralysis of constitutional rigidity. We must treat a constitution as a living document that must constantly adjust to our emerging realities.
In the past, all our constitutions have been cease-fire documents. Agreements created to dodge confrontation and civil conflict.
And if you do a textual reading of these constitutions, they represent a constant argument between the past and the present. That is why they are cease-fire documents.
But ten years after our progressive constitution, the moment calls us to do better. Instead of a cease-fire document that enforces a zero-sum game in which the winner takes it all, the moment calls us to create a constitutional order that will long endure. And on this, I want to emphasize that we must not go for the populist path. Let us choose the bold path; that path that will assure Kenyans of sustained peace and security, and shared economic prosperity.
Finally, if we view the health crisis as an opportunity, and not just a danger, then we will completely re-arrange our country, its constitutional architecture and its heritage. And as Abraham Lincoln once said: “…The only way to predict the future is to invent it”. We can invent the future we want through our actions of ‘civic responsibility’ today.
God Bless you. God Bless Kenya

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First man cured of HIV dies of cancer

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The first person to be cured of HIV, Timothy Ray Brown — known as the “Berlin Patient” — has died after a battle with cancer, the International Aids Society (IAS) announced Wednesday.

Brown made medical history and became a symbol of hope for the tens of millions of people living with the virus that causes AIDS when he was cured more than a decade ago.

He had been living with a recurrence of leukaemia for several months and received hospice care at his home in Palm Springs, California.

“On behalf of all its members… the IAS sends its condolences to Timothy’s partner, Tim, and his family and friends,” said IAS President Adeeba Kamarulzaman.

“We owe Timothy and his doctor, Gero Hutter, a great deal of gratitude for opening the door for scientists to explore the concept that a cure for HIV is possible.”

Brown was diagnosed with HIV while was studying in Berlin in 1995. A decade later, he was diagnosed with leukaemia, a cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow.

To treat his leukaemia, his doctor at the Free University of Berlin used a stem cell transplant from a donor who had a rare genetic mutation that gave him natural resistance to HIV, hoping it may wipe out both diseases.

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It took two painful and dangerous procedures, but it was a success: in 2008 Brown was declared free of the two ailments, and was initially dubbed “the Berlin Patient” at a medical conference to preserve his anonymity.

Two years later, he decided to break his silence and went on to become a public figure, giving speeches and interviews and starting his own foundation.

“I am living proof that there could be a cure for AIDS,” he told AFP in 2012. “It’s very wonderful, being cured of HIV.”

‘Champion’

Ten years after Brown was cured, a second HIV sufferer — dubbed “the London Patient” — was revealed to be in remission 19 months after undergoing a similar procedure.

The patient, Adam Castillejo, is currently HIV-free. In August a California woman was reported to have no traces of HIV despite not using anti-retroviral treatment.

It is thought she may be the first person to be cured of HIV without undergoing the risky bone marrow treatment.

Sharon Lewin, president-elect of the IAS and director of the Doherty Institute in Melbourne, Australia, praised Brown as a “champion and advocate” of a cure for HIV.

“It is the hope of the scientific community that one day we can honour his legacy with a safe, cost-effective and widely accessible strategy to achieve HIV remission and curs using gene edition or techniques that boost immune control,” she said.

READ ALSO:   Panic as US tops 90,000 coronavirus deaths

By AFP

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Kenyans in US grapple with Covid-19 woes

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His conspicuous Kenyan name, Kariuki, is what gave him out and attracted the attention of a handful of compatriots working at the Philadelphia international airport.

Recently, staff at the airport woke up to news that scores of homeless people had been rounded up by the airport police and the Philadelphia Parking Authority. Among them was Kariuki (first name withheld for privacy reasons), a Days later, the Nation located Mr Kariuki in a shelter for homeless people on Island Avenue in South Philadelphia.

Mr Kariuki, originally from Nakuru County in Kenya’s Rift Valley, came to the US as an undergrad student at Temple university in Philadelphia five years ago.

“My mom, a hawker in Nakuru, raised the initial $10,000 for my tuition and that could only last me a semester and a half. Fortunately, I got a part-time job at the library in college but I still had to work at a local grocery store in the evenings and play drums for my church on Sundays where I was paid $100 every Sunday. Things were okay until Covid-19,” said Mr Kariuki.

A combination of photos of counsellor and clinical consultant Abel Oriri, who is based in Cleveland, Ohio; Geoffrey Chepkwony, who died in August in Texas, US; and David Bulindah, a clinical counsellor based in Seattle, Washington.

When, towards the end of March, the state of Pennsylvania shut down everything including education institutions, hotels and shops — and restricted movement, his world came tumbling down.

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“My roommate, in whose name our apartment was registered cancelled the lease and returned to Memphis, Tennessee to his family. For almost three months, I lived in my car. It was hard to find food. The nights were cold. I started developing regular panic attacks that left me feeling like I was going crazy!” he said.

So bad were the panic attacks that police found him at the busy intersection between Island Avenue and Lindberg shouting at motorists and trying to stop them.

“I cannot remember doing this,” he says, although he describes himself at the time as “stressed, depressed and contemplating suicide”.

Psychiatric help

One day, he woke up in some psychiatric facility in West Chester and was told he had been there for three weeks.

“I was totally confused, and heavily sedated. I had nowhere to go but at least I knew I had to leave that place,” he says

Mr Kariuki finally went to the airport because one of his classmates was working at an eatery that had remained open. His friend would occasionally give him a fresh meal and, at least at the airport, he’d enjoy heating during spring and cold air in summer. That was where the authorities found him and other homeless people who they took to shelters.

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Mr Kariuki’s story is unfortunately now just one of the many familiar stories of Kenyans living abroad — made worse by the pandemic.

“It’s of course true to say that Covid-19 has led to a significant increase and demand for mental health intervention due to anxiety and depression. In fact, recent research indicates that more than 53 per cent of adults in the US have reported that their mental health had negatively been impacted directly,” said Kenyan-born counsellor and clinical consultant, Abel Oriri based in Cleveland, Ohio.

Recently, Kenyans in Houston, Texas, were shocked by the death of Geoffrey Chepkwony, who is thought to have committed suicide after his body was found on the streets. He was said to have been struggling with mental health problems. The Kenyan community in the US, led by those in Texas, has been raising the money needed to ship his remains home following a passionate appeal from his mother in Kenya.

Another high-profile case is that of the first Kenyan-born National Football League player, Daniel Adongo, who later fell from grace. His worrying state was depicted in a video clip widely shared online. His family later said they had sought help for him. Coronavirus seems to have exacerbated social and health issues like homelessness, depression and domestic violence, among others.

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Support groups

Mr Oriri, who is also a pastor, says most of his clients now describe feelings of depression, anxiety, worry, stress, loneliness, poor appetite, suicidal thoughts and isolation.

“Many report difficulties sleeping, eating, increased alcohol consumption and substance use. Worsening chronic conditions from worry, depression, and stress over Covid-19.

The anger management and domestic violence groups that I have been providing for more than 20 years have surged one hundred percent in enrollment since the pandemic began,” he said in a recent interview.

David Bulindah, a Kenyan Pastoral and Clinical Counsellor based in Seattle, Washington, said the usually structured life of Kenyans in the US was recently disrupted without warning by the coronavirus.

“Most people could not leave their job and or could not go to their second job. For someone who had been enjoying consistent income to suddenly lose all that, stress, anxiety and depression thus kicks in”. he said.

Mr. Bulindah says that the Kenyan community will only deal with these issues if it opens up and discusses mental health and homelessness candidly without pre-judging those affected.

“People should know that it’s okay to lose a job and it’s okay to experience mental health problems. Those affected should not isolate themselves rather, reach out for help,” he said.

By nation.co.ke

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KNH strike claims its first victim

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A man died at the parking lot of Kenya’s largest referral hospital where a strike by 5,000 workers paralysed operations on Monday.

The boda boda rider was taken to the hospital by his friends following an accident.

But the management of the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) insisted the patient was in a critical state and that his death was not due to negligence.

Dr Stanley Kamau, a board member at KNH, said the hospital and staff were not to blame for the death.

The strike disrupted services at the hospital and left patients unattended. The striking employees are protesting a delay to effect a pay rise totaling Sh601 million.

Some families were forced to move unattended patients from the hospital as members of the Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotels, Educational Institutions and Hospital Workers (Kudheiha), the Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN), and the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) commenced their strike.

Workers’ demands

The workers are demanding implementation of resolutions from the State Corporation Advisory Committee, which upgraded the hospital’s parastatal status from 3C to 7A in 2012.

Following the reclassification, all KNH staff were to benefit from enhanced pay but it has never been effected.

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Some workers went on strike late last year, prompting a return-to-work formula with management to end the boycott.

But the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) has said the formula is not a basis for demanding a review of remuneration, arguing it’s not fiscally sustainable and will distort the salary structure in the sector.

SRC has asked the referral to retain the current pay structure as it awaits a job evaluation that will inform the remuneration review cycle for 2021/22 to 2014/25.

KNUN Secretary-General Seth Panyako said members were not interested in the job evaluation and wanted their salaries adjusted as the matter had been approved by Parliament.

“We want SRC to write to the CEO giving authorisation for payment because we know the money is there. We will not go back to work until we get the money,” Mr Panyako stated.

SRC the ‘obstacle’

KMPDU’s acting Secretary-General Chibanzi Mwachonda claims SRC is the only obstacle and it is frustrating health workers in the public sector.

The hospital’s chief executive officer in a letter to SRC yesterday said KNH will ensure the Sh601 million budgeted for in the 2020/21 financial year is paid in October.

In a letter dated February 12, 2013, to then Finance Principal Secretary, KNH detailed the breakdown of the salaries from the CEO to the lowest Job Group K16/17.

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The lowest basic salary for the hospital CEO was set at Sh400,000, while the maximum had been capped at Sh560,000. House allowance was to be between Sh60,000 and Sh80,000.

While the CEO’s basic salary was settled at Sh400,000, that of the lowest worker was set at Sh17, 535.

by nation.co.ke

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