AFRICA/KENYA - Covid-19, "the Church is close to her people in this moment of fear and despair"

Thursday, 9 April 2020 coronavirus   local churches   prayer   solidarity   charity  

Nairobi (Agenzia Fides) - "The Church in Kenya is working hard to raise awareness among the population so that the measures imposed by the government to combat the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic are respected. And there is full support and closeness to the faithful, in this time of suffering and isolation". This is what Father Robbin Kamemba, Kenyan priest of the Society for African Missions (SMA) who works in Nairobi, says in an interview with Agenzia Fides, talking about the new containment measures introduced by the executive: on April 6, four counties were closed for 21 days. These are the metropolitan area of Nairobi and the counties of the coast of Kwale, Mombasa and Kilifi. The decision was taken following a meeting of the National Security Council, after coronavirus cases in the country started to increase: from the 50 positivity cases confirmed at the end of March, there are currently 179 cases, all monitored in public facilities such as Mbagathi and Kenyatta Hospital in Nairobi, Coast General Hospital in Mombasa, and also in private clinics equipped with intensive care units.
In Kenya there is no complete lockdown, but "despite the encouragement to stay at home - says Father Robbin - in Nairobi we still see many people outdoors who do not observe social distancing in markets, public transport, and behave as if nothing is happening".
The capital, in fact, leads the sad ranking with 82% of positive cases, hence the decision of President Uhuru Kenyatta to close borders across the urban and suburban area of Nairobi. The situation is complicated especially for the inhabitants who live in low-income areas, where tensions and clashes with the police are recorded: "In the poorer neighborhoods - continues Father Kamemba - many families can only rely on daily earnings: they must therefore being able to continue to carry out their activities. At the same time, it is everyone's responsibility to comply with the curfew from 7pm to 5 am in the morning". Catholic educational institutions have also taken steps to limit the spread of coronavirus according to indications from civil authorities. These include the Catholic University of East Africa (CUEA) and Tangaza University College (TUC) in Nairobi. Both institutions have suspended classroom activities and replaced them with online lessons. "In this critical period of fear and despair - reports the religious - the Church, through the use of mass media, offers support, closeness and solidarity to the faithful, inviting them to live as brothers and sisters, and together to pray to God to help us get out of this pandemic: it will be our Easter of resurrection".
Meanwhile, the Kenyan government spokesman, Cyrus Each, has announced that the country has accepted the request of the African Union and the World Health Organization to host the African Center for Disease Prevention and Control (Africa CDC), a medical research center for the control of infections and pandemics. China has offered to finance the construction of the new institute, which will be based in Nairobi: "The Chinese government has invested 72 million euros in this project - the missionary reports - once completed, Africa CDC will provide job opportunities for Kenyans for specializations and technical, administrative and support functions. This reality - concludes Fr. Robbin - not only will be a valuable contribution in the fight against epidemics such as the current one, but will certainly give a significant impulse to strengthen health systems throughout the African continent, to build resilient communities that focus on the person and the family". (ES) (Agenzia Fides, 9/4/2020)