Covid-19: Kenya's president orders new lockdown

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FILE PHOTO: A pharmacist prepares a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in a pharmacy in Paris as part of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination campaign in France, March 19, 2021. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A pharmacist prepares a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in a pharmacy in Paris as part of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination campaign in France, March 19, 2021. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta restricted travel in the capital Nairobi and four other counties on Friday as Covid-19 infections hit record levels in East Africa's richest economy.

In a televised address, Kenyatta said a wave of new lockdown measures including a stricter curfew and the closure of bars in the capital were essential to fight Covid-19.

"Whereas the foregoing measures will have a negative impact on the economy, these measures are temporary ... the cost of not acting now will be far much greater," the president said from State House, flanked by masked officials.

Residents of Nairobi and the four other areas were ordered to stay in their counties and not cross into other areas. In-person schooling was suspended, apart from for students taking exams.

On 12 March Kenyatta extended a nationwide overnight curfew for 60 days to battle the third wave of infections, but on Friday he said further action was needed amid a "devastating" death rate and an overstretched health system.

Kenya as of Thursday had reported 126 170 cases and 2 092 deaths in total, according to the health ministry.

The president said the positive test rate hit 22% this week compared to January's 2%.

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