The Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) has established three sites with a bed capacity of 1,500 patients each for forced quarantine “if things get out of hand,” the Nation has established.
The sites, with a total capacity of 4,500, established under the command of President Uhuru Kenyatta who is also the commander-in-chief of the defence forces, will be used to combat the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19) if necessary, people in the know have said.
The Nation has learnt that soldiers who have been ordered to be “mission ready” are being trained internally on how to respond to the virus so that they can be ready for action in case they are called upon to aid in the ongoing civilian response to the virus.
The armed forces, which represent a significant pool of trained, disciplined, and motivated men and women with a vast array of skills, could be expected to offer medical support, transport of vital supplies and protection of key installations so as to free up the police to perform their traditional role of maintaining security and public order.
The KDF Director of Medical Services Major General George Ng’ang’a was ordered to deploy his doctors as part of the first response to the virus outbreak.
So as to stop the spread of the virus, KDF troops have been ordered to self-quarantine and restrict their movements, those in the know said.
However, the government has not made any decision to deploy the military.
On Tuesday, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said the government will seek to deploy more measures in containing the virus if cases of infected people increase drastically.
Mr Kagwe did not give specifics of the expected measures.
During the presser, the Health CS announced that the government is working on solving hitches affecting efforts to forcibly quarantine travellers who came back to Kenya and individuals suspected to have come into contact with people whose results for the coronavirus have tested positive.
By 2pm Tuesday, the government, through the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Council (KMPDC) had identified places with a bed capacity of 6,895 as quarantine facilities.
The facilities include various hotels among them Hill Park Hotel, Hilton Garden Inn, Hilton Nairobi, Safari Park, Pride Inn Hotels (Westlands, Lantana, Raphta, Azure, Paradise, Flamingo and Mombasa Town), Jacaranda, Trademark, Four Points Sheraton Hurlingham, Boma and Crown Plaza Airport.
Institutions that have been designated as quarantine zones include KMTC KNH, Kenyatta University, Kenya School of Government, University of Nairobi (Soweto Block A to Block D, Lower Kabete, Stella Awinja, Box), Cooperative University and the Kenya Water Institute.
The document signed by KMPDC CEO Daniel Yumbya pointed out that already, all the 300 beds at Kenya School of Government, Kenyatta University (2,000), Boma Hotel (200), Pride Inn Hotels Lantana (53) are fully occupied.
The designated quarantine facilities will be charging between Sh2,000 and Sh10,000 per night.
The cost of the forced quarantine at the University of Nairobi hostels and at the KCB Leadership Centre in Karen is not listed.
If Kenya decides to deploy the military, it will be following the trend in other countries which have taken such measures.
The military has been brought in to help disinfect care homes in Spain, the second worst-hit European country after Italy.
In Britain, the British Army has been called in to help the most vulnerable people during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Bulgaria military has been allowed to help curb the movement of people amid the coronavirus outbreak, with a mandate to use force if necessary.
The Bulgarian forces will be mobilised to assist civilian authorities, with authority to stop vehicles and people until the police arrive.
In America, President Donald Trump has tasked the US Navy to deploy two of its hospital ships to each coast to aid overburdened hospital systems as coronavirus cases rise.
The military is also redirecting medical supplies to the government to distribute across the United States.
At least 7,300 National Guard members are aiding in the coronavirus response in all 50 states where cases have been reported as well as in Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico.