Southern and Eastern Africa COVID-19 Digest (Discontinued on 31 Aug 2020)

Situation Report
Kenya — Trends
Stacey, 17, revises her Form 4 lessons from a single textbook in the alleyway outside the one-room home she shares with her mother and sister. © UNICEF/Alissa Everett

Government lifts ban on inter-county travel and commercial flights, in a planned phased re-opening of the economy

  • First case: 12 March

  • Total cases: 28,104 (as of 13 August 2020)

  • Total deaths: 456

  • Schools: Closed country-wide until January 2021 (15.3 million learners affected).

  • Borders/Flights: International passenger flights which were suspended from 25 March, except for inbound and outbound repatriations and cargo, restarted on 1 August. Borders with Somalia and Tanzania closed since 17 May, except for cargo.

  • Containment measures: Countrywide curfew (9 p.m. to 4 a.m.); public gatherings limited to 10 people; masks to be worn in public areas; all pubs closed and sale of alcohol in restaurant banned.


Following a surge in COVID-19 infections, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced on 27 July, new measures to contain the pandemic, which has infected over 28,104 people with 456 reported deaths, as of 13 August 2020. All 47 counties have reported infections. Nairobi City and Mombasa county have the highest attack rates in the country. Starting on 27 July, there shall be no sale of alcoholic beverages in restaurants for the following 30 days. All bars remain closed until further notice. The nationwide curfew (9 p.m. to 5 a.m.) and prohibition against social and political gatherings was extended for a further 30 days.

Previously on 6 July, the President announced a phased reopening of the country as pressure mounted to kick- start the country's ailing economy after four months of coronavirus restrictions. Domestic flights resumed operations on 15 July, while international air travel in and out of Kenya restarted on 1 August, subject to health regulations. The lifting of the ban of movement in and out of the capital, Nairobi, the port city of Mombasa and north-eastern Mandera county was effective on 7 July. Public Service Vehicles operators must acquire mandatory certification from the Ministry of Health, in consultation with Ministry of Transport before they operate and conduct routine temperate testing on the passengers along the designated routes. Places of worship commended a phased reopening on 14 July, but restricted to one hour with a maximum of 100 people aged between 13 and 57 years, as per the guidelines developed by the Inter-Faith Council. The Minister for Education announced on 7 July the cancellation of the 2020 Academic year. All schools in the country will remain closed until January 2021, while the status of colleges and universities meant to reopen in September is yet to be decided. Land borders with Somalia and Tanzania remain closed since 17 May, except for cargo, following increasing number of cases in border areas. COVID-19 test is, since then, mandatory for all drivers of transborder cargo vehicles and those who have the virus will not be allowed to entry Kenya.

On 22 April, Human Rights Watch (HRW) launched a report denouncing several allegedly cases of police violence. According to HRW, officers shot and beat people at markets or returning home from work, even before the daily start of the curfew. The organization documented cases of police breaking into homes and shops, extorting money from residents or looting food in several locations across the country. The Government of Kenya's Independent Policing Oversight Authority has recorded at least 35 cases of police brutality related to enforcement of the COVID-19 curfew, 12 of which resulted in death, and has opened investigations into a number of the cases.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of gender-based violence cases has also increased. UNFPA estimates that a total of 247,334 women of reproductive age are at risk of sexual violence and are need of services. On 23 July, health authorities recorded more than 5,000 rape cases received in health facilities between March to June; 70 per cent against children of whom 95 per cent are female. Counties like Wajir, Turkana, Kisii, Nandi, Lamu, Homabay and Kisumu, have reported a 30 per cent increase in incidents of violence since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, according MoH. On 6 July, the President ordered the National Crime Research Centre to probe the escalating cases of gender-based violence and “the worrying trend of cases where the girl child has been disempowered”. Essential services including outpatient visits, treatment of chronic conditions, reproductive healthcare and immunization have also been disrupted with health authorities recording a 30 per cent decline in outpatient visits between March and May, according to preliminary findings from a yet-to-be released report by the Ministry of Health. Attendance at health facilities by those with chronic conditions reduced by 40 per cent, raising concerns over the impact of COVID-19 on management of HIV, TB, diabetes, and other conditions. There was also a significant drop in attendance at gynecology clinics, according to media reports quoting the findings.


  • The Government has earmarked Ksh40 billion (approximately US$377.7 million) in funds for additional health expenditure, including enhanced surveillance, laboratory services, isolation units, equipment, supplies, and communication; social protection and cash transfers; food relief; and funds for expediting payments of existing obligations to maintain cash flow for businesses during the crisis.

  • On 9 April, the United Nations and humanitarian partners launched an Emergency Appeal to support the Government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the country. The plan seeks $267.5 million to respond to the most immediate and critical needs of 10.1 million people that will likely be affected by the current situation.

  • UN and partners are scaling up cash transfers to vulnerable households in informal settlements as COVID-19 restrictions impact access to informal employment, food and essential services. (Read more information on the response in the situation report. )

Official sources:

Ministry of Health Official Twitter and Ministry of Health website

WHO Kenya Official Twitter

Fourth Presidential Address on the Coronavirus Pandemic - 17 April 2020

Other links:

COVID-19 Educational Disruption and Response, by UNESCO

COVID-19 World Travel Restrictions, by the Emergency Division of the World Food Programme (WFP)

Global COVID-19 Airport Status, by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

Policy Response to COVID-19, by IMF