NAIROBI, KENYA: Kenya’s Ministry of Health has announced it will enforce a rule requiring people to be vaccinated against COIVD-19 to access public services, places, and events. The ministry is going ahead with the mandate despite a court order that postponed it pending a hearing next month.
A new report from Kenya’s health ministry shows that nearly 30% of Kenyans checked for the coronavirus have tested positive.
The World Health Organization says a country must have a positivity rate below 5% to be considered safe.
The Kenyan government has announced stricter measures to contain further spread of the virus.
At a press briefing Wednesday, health chief administration secretary Mercy Mwangangi announced that one will have to show proof of vaccination to enter public spaces such as buses, grocery stores, restaurants and game reserves.
“These measures are here to protect you and me. Right now, the Ministry of Health, in putting down these directives through NERC, is invoking the Public Health Act,” Mwangangi said.
NERC is Kenya’s National Emergency Response Committee.
Last week, the Kenyan high court suspended a state order that said the vaccine mandate would begin December 21. A hearing on the case is scheduled for January 14.
Martin Oloo, a Kenyan lawyer and legal expert, says with Wednesday’s announcement, the government is defying the court order.
“This is going to be yet another standoff between the government and courts in terms of obedience or disobedience of court orders and this not something that the government of Kenya is strange to. It has been accused before of violating court orders. There is [a] cat and mouse chase between government and the courts whether government agrees with courts or not [or] whether the courts agree with government or not. We have seen courts striking down at government programs every so often,” Oloo said.
The state further directs that exemption for vaccination can be issued only by licensed medical providers.
Health authorities had given Kenyans up to December 21 to get vaccinated and obtain a COVID-19 certificate so they can enter government facilities.