Government spokesperson Col.(Rtd) Cyrus Oguna says the country could be sent on a lockdown to stem the spread of the coronavirus, but lifting of taxes to cushion Kenyans from the economic impact of the pandemic is out of the question.
Responding to calls from a section of Kenyans urging the government to declare a lockdown, Oguna said enforcing a stay-at-home order “is something that is always on the table but we don’t want to get there.”
The government spokesperson noted that the only way the country can avoid going on a shutdown is if Kenyans comply and strictly adhere to the safety guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health.
“A lockdown is something that is always on the table but we don’t want to get there and we will not get there if our people are able to obey the advisory and measures that have put in place by the government,” said Oguna on Monday.
“It is a place that no country wants to go. No society is comfortable with it.”
Col. Oguna ruled out the possibility of lifting taxes in the face of the crisis, noting that the government “is not a business enterprise, it must be able to fund its operations from taxes.”
“The taxes cannot be entirely lifted because the government must continue to operate. The government is not a business enterprise, it must be able to fund its operations from taxes. There is no government globally that has been able to remove all taxes because of a situation like this,” said the government spokesperson.
During the interview, he remained upbeat about the country’s ability to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that the nation is on the right direction to keep the curve of infections manageable.
“We are in the right direction to flatten the curve. We have seen a lot of improvement. Many people are obeying the advisories and if we stay that way, we may not get to a lockdown,” he said.
On the country’s ability to screen and test suspected cases, Oguna maintained that the government has sufficient kits, however, he could not issue any figures.
“We are in a very very good place. We have sufficient kits to be able to test many people. So people should not be worried about our testing capacities. We have several labs all the way from Busia to Kilifi. So people should not be concerned about the fact that we may not have adequate kits,” he noted.
The number of coronavirus cases in Kenya stood at 16 on Monday, March 23 with the government announcing that it had traced 646 individuals who came into contact with those who have already tested positive for the virus