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Kenya to get Sh5bn World Bank credit for coronavirus fight

A private ambulance paramedic puts on
A private ambulance paramedic puts on protective gear during a training to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in the town of Thika, near Nairobi, Kenya, March 20, 2020. PHOTO | REUTERS  

Kenya is set for an additional Sh5.2 billion ($50 million) credit from the World Bank Thursday to support the fight against Covid-19 as confirmed cases rose to hit 81.

Health Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said that the credit facility will increase the government’s pool of funds to finance production of sanitisers, protective gear for medical personnel and scaling up bed capacity for Covid-19 patients.

The funding comes just as Kenya recorded the highest jump in infections on Wednesday when it confirmed 22 new cases even as fears mount of dire days ahead.

The patients are 18 Kenyans and two nationals each from Pakistan and Cameroon, who tested positive from among 300 persons with Mr Kagwe saying that they are all in quarantine.

The CS, however, warned that the transmissions will likely rise in coming days unless Kenyans adhere to the government directives on social distancing and basic hygiene measures that include use of sanitisers and cleaning hands using soap and water.

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“We cannot emphasise enough what is likely to be ahead of us unless we adhere to the rules we have established that include washing hands, social distancing,” Mr Kagwe warned.

The number of infections in the country is likely to remain on the rise in coming days on increased mass testing of all people who jetted into the country from last week and close to 1, 000 contacts.

The country, however, recorded its first recoveries from the fast-spreading virus – that of the first declared patient Brenda Cherotich and Brian Orinda, who were in isolation at the Mbagathi Hospital.

Mr Kagwe said that the country will scale up production of face masks in addition to the free distribution of sanitisers that began last week to beef up support from development partners and curb spread of the virus.

The World Bank that had last week donated 250 ventilators is expected to approve Sh5 billion facility on Thursday that will further increase the pool of funding available to the country in fighting spread of Covid-19.

Chinese billionaire and co-founder of e-commerce multinational Alibaba Jack Ma last month donated 25, 000 testing kits that will help the government scale up testing for coronavirus.

With the rise in coronavirus infections, Kenya says the  dusk-to-dawn curfew, from 7pm to 5am,  will remain in force besides social distancing rules, as well as the requirement for all matatus to carry less than half of their capacity in efforts to curb the spread.

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