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COVID-19: Kenya frees nearly 4,000 prisoners

Official says step taken to protect prison population, coronavirus cases in Kenya reach 110 with 3 deaths

Andrew Wasike   | 02.04.2020
COVID-19: Kenya frees nearly 4,000 prisoners

NAIROBI, Kenya

Kenya released nearly 4,000 inmates on Thursday as part of efforts to avert a COVID-19 outbreak in the country’s prisons.

Wycliffe Ogalo, Kenya’s commissioner general of prisons, said in a statement the move was aimed at protecting the prison population in the country.

“With a view of protecting the prison population against the coronavirus, the Kenya Prisons Service has released 3,837 prisoners and remandees in concurrence with the National Council on the Administration of Justice,” read the statement.

It said the measures were taken in line with the understanding that “close and unprotected interaction/contact between individuals” was the most important factor in the spread of the coronavirus.

“The decision is thus aimed at achieving the recommended one-meter social distancing within our facilities as part of the progressive review of our strategies in combating the global pandemic,” said Ogalo.

Cases and deaths rise 

The number of COVID-19 cases in Kenya rose to 110 on Thursday, while two more fatalities brought the death toll to three.

Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe said 29 people -- 28 Kenyans and 1 Congolese citizen -- tested positive for the virus over the past 24 hours.

In a separate statement, a government spokesperson warned the situation in Kenya was worsening by the day.

“The situation in our country is not getting better; it is getting worse. This disease is a pandemic and the government is continuously improving its capacity to handle it, even as cases continue to increase,” said spokesperson Cyrus Oguna.

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