NAIROBI – Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, has vowed to arrest and punish 50 people who escaped mandatory coronavirus quarantines at an isolation center in Nairobi. Some Kenyans, who were forced to isolate in government facilities, have complained about high fees to stay at the center.
Kenya’s health minister, Mutahi Kagwe, called on the public to report individuals who escaped from the Kenya Medical Training College, one of the government quarantine centers in Nairobi.
“An individual who you are aware, because they were even videos, you are aware jumped the fence at KMTC, jumped the wall at KMTC, and is now with you that individual is going to cost you very highly,” Kagwe said. “That individual could end up killing your child. Therefore it’s important that you call the police.”
Last week some people in the quarantine center in Mandera County bribed their way out of the facility.
Godfrey Otieno spent 16 days at the KMTC quarantine facility. The father of four said the government quarantine center had its challenges, and he understands why people would want to escape.
“So these people don’t understand why they are in quarantine, they see it as punishment,” Otieno said. “Secondly, you are likely to get more infection that you had. Thirdly there is this notion in the government facility that the government should take care of you because if you tell someone from Kibera to pay 2,000 shillings a day. This person earns 10,000 a month. How is he going to pay for that?”
Francis Luchivya finished his quarantine this week after a longer than expected stay at a hotel in Nairobi.
“The original instruction was we will be placed under forced quarantine for 14 days,” Luchivya said. “On doing the test at quarantine facility two people tested positive, then they used that as a reason to continue to hold us there, saying we are going to hold you for another 14 days because two people tested positive.”
Luchivya paid $1,700 for his quarantine, and was ordered to self-isolate another seven days at home after his release.
Kenya has banned public gatherings, imposed a nighttime curfew and forced people to wear a mask in public to stop the spread of the virus.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, speaking on Wednesday, said anyone who does not follow the directives should be taken to a quarantine facility.
“We are saying people who do not respect the set laws and regulations, if you are caught breaking the set regulations, I said there is no need of taking that person to the police station, police have other jobs of protecting us,” Kenyatta said. “If they are arrested, they should be taken to the quarantine center and stay there for 11 days. They break the law again, then they should be added another 11 days because we need to do this to return our country to normalcy.”
Also Wednesday, the government restricted the movement of people in and out of Mandera County, which borders Ethiopia and Somalia, after eight coronavirus cases were reported there. Mandera is the fifth county where movement is restricted.
The Kenyan government has accused some people of not taking the virus seriously.