2020 coronavirus pandemic in Kenya

The 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic reached Kenya in March 2020 with the initial cases reported in Nairobi and Kajiado Counties.

2020 coronavirus pandemic in Kenya
Kenya corona county map 26032020.png
Map of counties with confirmed COVID-19 cases in Kenya as of 3 April 2020.
Virus strainSARS-CoV-2
First outbreakWuhan, China
Index caseNairobi
Arrival date13 March 2020
(3 weeks and 5 days)
Confirmed cases179


On 12 January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that a novel coronavirus was the cause of a respiratory illness in a cluster of people in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, which was reported to the WHO on 31 December 2019.[1][2]

The case fatality ratio for COVID-19 has been much lower than SARS of 2003,[3][4] but the transmission has been significantly greater, with a significant total death toll.[5][3]


COVID-19 cases in Kenya  ()
     Deaths        Recoveries        Active cases
# of cases
# of deaths
31(+11%) 1
31(+0%) 1
38(+23%) 1
42(+11%) 1
50(+19%) 1
59(+18%) 1
81(+37%) 1
110(+36%) 3
122(+11%) 3
126(+3%) 3
142(+13%) 6
158(+11%) 6
172(+9%) 6
179(+4%) 6
  • Official: World Health Organization provides daily update here
  • Live updates (unofficial) [1]
  • Last updated: 08.04.2020, 15:15 UTC Note that due to different release times throughout the day, see below, the shown steps do not always correspond to 24 hours.

March 2020Edit

On 13 March, the first case in Kenya, a 27-year-old Kenyan woman who traveled from the US via London, was confirmed.[6] The Kenyan government identified and isolated a number of people who had come into contact with the first case.

On 15 March, Cabinet Secretary for Health, Mutahi Kagwe, announced that two people who had sat next to the initial patient on the aircraft in transit from the United States had also tested positive for the virus.[7] Schools were closed and public gatherings were prohibited. Also as a result, the country's borders were closed to all except Kenyan citizens and legal residents.[citation needed]

On 16 March, the government through its spokesman Col Cyrus Oguna said on an update that there were another three people who were suspected to be carriers of the virus and that their results were to be released soon.[8]

On 17 March, it was announced by the Health Secretary that a fourth case had been diagnosed.[9] On 18 March, three more cases confirmed were by the Health Secretary, bringing the total confirmed cases in Kenya to seven.[10]

On 22 March, eight more cases were confirmed by the Health Secretary, bringing the total cases confirmed to 15. The government confirmed it was tracing 363 people who are believed to have had contact with the eight new cases.[11]

On 23 March, another case was confirmed bringing the total confirmed cases to 16.[12]

On 24 March, nine more cases reported for a total of 25 nationally.[13]

On 25 March, the first recovery was confirmed, and three more cases were recorded, bringing the total confirmed cases to 28.[14][15]

On 26 March, three more cases were recorded and bringing the total confirmed cases to 31. In addition to Nairobi, the government confirmed that corona virus cases in Kenya are spread among four other counties, namely Kajiado, Mombasa, Kilifi, and Kwale.[16] On the same date, the first death of a person infected with the corona virus was reported in Kenya. The patient was a 66-year-old Kenyan man who had recently returned from a business trip in Eswatini and had transited via O. R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa. It is unknown where exactly he contracted the virus.[17]

On March 28, the ministry of health confirmed 7 more cases, bringing a total tally of confirmed covid-19 cases in Kenya to 38. On the same day, the government announced that 2 patients who had earlier tested positive had tested negative and were awaiting for a second test to confirm they had fully recovered.

On 29 March, four more cases were recorded bringing the total confirmed cases to 42.During a briefing on Sunday, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said of the four, one is a Kenyan, one American, one Cameroonian and one a Burkinabé.Mr Kagwe said three of the cases were based in Nairobi and one in Mombasa. The CS said of the 42 cases, 24 are male while 18 are females. Nairobi leads with 31 cases followed by Kilifi (six), Mombasa (Three) and Kwale and Kajiado on each.[18]

On 30 March, Kenya's coronavirus cases have risen by 8, with the total now standing at 50 that have been confirmed, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said on Monday. Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said of the eight,six of the cases were based in Nairobi, one in Kitui and one in Mombasa.[19]

On 31 March, Kenya's coronavirus cases rose by 9, bringing the total to 59 confirmed cases to date.[20]

April 2020Edit

On April 1, Kenya's coronavirus cases rose by 22, bringing the total to 81 confirmed cases to date.[21] Additionally, the Kenyan government confirmed that the first and third reported cases had both full recovered from the virus, bringing the total number of recoveries nationally to three. [22]

On April 2, an additional 29 cases were confirmed bringing the total number of cases to 110 nationally. The government reported one more recovered patient increasing the total recoveries to four. Additionally, two more deaths were confirmed, one from Nairobi and the one in Mombasa, bringing the total number of deaths due to coronavirus to three.

On April 4th 4 more cases were recorded out of a total sample of 325 cases.

On April 6th president Uhuru Kenyatta announced a cessation of movement in and out of The Nairobi Metropolitan Area for a containment period of 21 days, other counties affected by the cessation are; Mombasa and Kilifi and Kwale county that would take effect as from 8th April

On April 7th, CS Mutahi Kagwe announced 14 more cases bringing the total to 172 people with the virus. He also announced that 4 more people recovered from the virus bringing the total recoveries to 7.

On 8th April, the number of people with Corona virus increased by 14 confirmed cases as announced by the Health Secretary, bringing the total number to 179.

Government responseEdit

In response to the rise of corona virus cases in Kenya to three, on 15 March the government of Kenya closed all schools and directed that all public and private sector workers work from home, wherever possible.[23] Travel restrictions were later imposed to prevent non-residents from entry. Kenyan nationals and residents were required to self-quarantine for a minimum of fourteen days.[24]

On 22 March, following the confirmation of an additional eight cases, bringing the total to 16 nationally, the Kenyan government introduced additional measures and directives to reduce the spread of coronavirus in the country. These measures included a suspension of all international flights effective at midnight on 25 March, with the exception of cargo flights (all persons entering the country will be compelled to undergo quarantine at a government facility). The government further stipulated that any persons, including senior government officials, found to be in violation of quarantine measures would be forcefully quarantind at their own expense. All bars were to remain closed from 22 March, with restaurants allowed to remain open for takeaway services only. All public service vehicles (i.e., matatus and buses) had to adhere to passenger-distancing guidelines previously stipulated on 20 March. Further, all public gatherings at churches, mosques, funerals and elsewhere were restricted to no more than 15 people, and weddings were banned.[25]

On 25 March, President Uhuru Kenyatta, following the reporting of an additional three cases, announced a nation-wide curfew on unauthorized movement from 7pm to 5am beginning on Friday, 27 March. The government also unveiled measures to buffer Kenyans against financial hardships arising movement restrictions associated with the coronavirus crisis, including:[26]

  • 100% tax relief to Kenyans earning KSh 24,000 (US$228) and below.
  • Pay as you earn (PAYE) reduction from a maximum of 30% to 25%.
  • Reduction of turnover tax rate from 3% to 1% for all micro, small and medium enterprises.
  • Reduction of resident income tax to 25%.
  • Making available KSh 10 billion (US$95 million) to vulnerable groups including the elderly and orphans, among others.
  • Temporary suspension of the listing of loan defaulters for of any person, micro, small and medium enterprise and corporate entities whose loan account is in arrears effective 1 April 2020.
  • Reduction of VAT from 16% to 14% effective 1 April 2020.

The government also moved to increase allocation of funds for health care, along with other fiscal adjustments to the economy:

  • KSh 1 billion (US$9.5 million) from the Universal Health Coverage kitty to be channeled to the employment of new health workers to help combat the spread of COVID-19.
  • The President and Deputy President to take 80% pay-cut, all Cabinet Secretaries to take 30% pay-cuts, Chief Administrative Secretaries (30%) and Principal Secretaries (20%).
  • All State and public officers aged 50 and above; and have preexisting medical conditions, to take leave from work, or be allowed to work from home. This directive excludes those public officers working in the security department.
  • Central Bank of Kenya to lower the Central Bank Rate from 8.25% to 7.25%.
  • Reduce the Cash Reserve Ratio from 5.25% to 4.25% to increase liquidity of KSh 35 billion to commercial banks, which, in turn, will be in positions to provide loan services to “distressed Kenyans”.

Nationwide curfew and police responseEdit

The 7pm–5am curfew, mentioned above, was accompanied by reports of police brutality.[27] First-hand accounts and video footage in several cities, including Nairobi and Mombasa, indicated that police used beatings and tear gas on 27 March. Some accounts indicate that detention resulted in crowding of people into small areas, contrary to the curfew's goal of increasing social distancing.[28] Kenyan officials and government outlets later condemned police behaviour.[29]

Subsequently, a petition was filed by Law Society of Kenya claiming that the curfew itself was unconstitutional, "because it is blanket and indefinite, and because it is ultra vires [it contravenes] the Public Order Act" and that the curfew posed a threat to the health of the general population. The petition further asserted that, "police recklessly horded large crowds on the ground, contrary to WHO advice on social distancing. Moreover, the first respondent (police) stopped the media from monitoring their movement and assaulted journalists covering the process". [30]. On March 30, the High Court of Kenya upheld the curfew itself, but barred police from using excessive force to enforce the curfew and demanded the police provide guidelines for observing the curfew [31] On 31 March, a 13-year-old boy was shot dead, allegedly by police, on the balcony of his home in Kiamiko, Nairobi, 20 minutes after the curfew had started.[32]


The travel restrictions reduced Kenya's hotel, tourism and flower industries. In contrast to citizens in industrialized countries, some Kenyans have the ability to switch from their city jobs to rural labour for food.[33]


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