The number of coronavirus cases in Kenya surpassed 20,000 on Friday, with the recording of 723 more positive results following the testing of 8,679 samples.
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe, in the daily briefing on the disease, announced a total of 20,636 cases since the country recorded its first one on March 13.
Sixteen more deaths raised the toll to 341 while 44 more recoveries raised the total to 8,165.
The 8,679 samples raised the total number tested in Kenya as of July 31 to 303,959.
CS Kagwe said only 23 of the new patients were Kenyans and that males were 450 in number and females 273. He said the youngest patient was nine months old.
Acknowledging concerns by the public about contact tracing, the ministry explained the process and said Kenyans should not panic as health professionals are still doing this actively.
“Contract tracing is mostly effective when the country is experiencing a slow infection rate. Our circumstances are changing as the virus [continues to spread] at county level,” he explained.
He added, however, that “expecting each person to be traced is not going to be possible”.
He noted that the ministry has been pushing counties to elevate levels of preparedness as management of Covid-19 is not limited to treating symptomatic patients.
With the celebration of Idd-ul-Adha on Friday, CS Kagwe said majority of the Muslim faithful had heeded the government’s call to respect rules for preventing the spread of the virus.
Regarding the resumption of international travel on Saturday, he noted that the Transport ministry has set guidelines that will be observed strictly.
These will be reviewed from time to time based on prevailing circumstances locally and across the borders, he said, adding travellers will use a mobile application to fill in their details for easier tracking.
“The guidelines are based on calculated risks, not diplomatic likes or dislikes. We are protecting Kenyans from what could easily become another case of imported [infections],” the CS said.
Asked about the high number of Chinese nationals leaving Kenya, CS Kagwe said, “We are not concerned … Kenyans are also leaving other countries and coming back home.
He added, “The fact is that we are opening the airspace … they could have made arrangements earlier. They are just leaving in their normal way … they are free to evacuate if they want to.”
The Transport ministry said the Chinese nationals left in evacuation flights.