Kenya to close borders with Tanzania, Somalia over virus fears

Uhuru Kenyatta (File: AFP)
Uhuru Kenyatta (File: AFP)

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta announced Saturday that the country's coronavirus measures would be extended and its borders with Tanzania and Somalia closed.

The East African nation will stop the movement of people and vehicles -- but not goods -- from its southern and northern neighbours from midnight, the president said.

"Among the positive cases that have been registered in the country this week, a total of 43 cases have recently crossed the border from neighbouring Somalia and Tanzania," Kenyatta said in a televised address.

That represents almost a quarter of the 166 cases recorded during that period, he added. Kenya has so far reported 830 positive coronavirus cases and 50 deaths.

Tanzania has been increasingly criticised over its management of the pandemic.

Meanwhile experts have warned that Somalia -- a fragile, under-resourced state already facing an armed insurgency, a locust invasion and flooding -- is unable to cope with an outbreak.

Kenyatta also said the national 7pm-5am curfew would be extended until June 6, as would a ban on entering or exiting the cities of Nairobi, Mombasa, Kilifi, Kwale and Mandera.

"A brutal and unforgiving enemy is at our wall. He is trying to gain entrance using every door and every window," Kenyatta said.

He also announced that truck drivers would be tested before entering Kenya, saying that border tests had identified 78 infected drivers, all turned back.

International flights have been suspended since March 25.

"If we do not take additional precautionary measures and get even more serious in implementing existing guidelines, the number of people who will get sick and die is going to rise sharply," he warned.

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