You are required to wear a mask while in public indoor settings or using public transport, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe has said.
Some of the places you will be required to have a mask on include supermarkets, marketplaces, places of worship, public services vehicles (PSVs), trains, and flights, as well as offices (government or private).
While this is not a new directive (it has been in place since March), Mr Kagwe urged Kenyans to keep their masks on when in closed or confined places due to the increasing cases of Coronavirus (Covid-19).
“..the mandatory wearing of face mask in open public spaces where one is not in close proximity with one another remains optional. However, one is required to wear a mask when in contact with other people in closed/ confined spaces…” said the CS Monday in a press briefing.
The Health Ministry announced a relaxation of Covid-19 containment measures back in March, citing declining infection rates in the preceding months. Back then, his order also permitted the public to stop wearing masks but with a caveat: you can do without a mask only in public places.
But on Monday Mr Kagwe took a rather cautionary tone sternly advising that passengers must have their face masks on at all times during the time of travel.
The CS cited the ongoing cold season and increase in cases of Covid-19 among the reasons for urging the public to adhere to the mask mandate in closed spaces.
Current cold season
“We… know that this steady increase in new infections is likely to get worse in view of the drop in temperatures occasioned by the current cold season,” he said.
Lately, coronavirus cases have been on the rise even as the state is uncertain whether the Omicron variant is circulating or not.
The country’s positivity rate is now at a weekly average of 10.74 percent. Positivity rate is defined as the percentage of people who test positive for the Sars-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19 disease from the overall people who have been tested.
So, as more and more people are being tested, the focus shifts to how many of those tested are actually infected.
In Covid-19, the positivity rate is a useful measure of how much the virus is spreading in a community. Based on the steadily rising positivity rate, many medical experts are speculating that a new wave could be creeping up in the country.
“This sharp rise in numbers of new infections should mean something to our country- that we must once again take urgent steps to prevent the slide into a crisis like the one we experienced in 202 and 2021 when we lost lives and resources,” explained Mr Kagwe.
At the onset of the pandemic, much of the world followed a similar playbook to tackle Covid-19. Lockdowns, heavily restricted international travel, hygiene measures like social distancing, hand-washing, and mask-wearing were strongly encouraged and mandated in many countries to curb the spike in transmission.