Kenya closes borders to Tanzania and Somalia over coronavirus

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta on Saturday banned movement across the country’s borders with Tanzania and Somalia to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.

FILE PHOTO - Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta arrives for a memorial service for late former President Daniel Arap Moi at the Nyayo Stadium in Nairobi, Kenya February 11, 2020. REUTERS/Njeri Mwangi

He exempted cargo trucks but said drivers would have to be tested for COVID-19.

“There will be a cessation of movement of persons and any passenger-ferrying automobiles and vehicles into and out of the territory of Kenya through the Kenya-Tanzania international border,” Kenyatta said in a televised address.

The same measures would apply on the border with Somalia, he said.

Kenyatta also extended by 21 days an existing dusk-to-dawn curfew and a ban on movement in and out of areas of Kenya worst hit by the coronavirus outbreak.

“I know there is growing global pressure for easing of measures against this disease and for all of us to get back to normal,” he said.

“We are going to step up our defence by employing stricter, more localised prevention actions.”

Kenya first imposed restrictions of movement in and out of the capital Nairobi, Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale on the Indian Ocean coast and Mandera in the northeast in April.

The east African nation has also imposed bans on public gatherings, large funerals and shuttered schools.

Kenya has 830 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, with 50 deaths.

Kenyatta said authorities had so far prevented 78 truck drivers from neighbouring countries, including Tanzania and Somalia from entering Kenya after they tested positive for COVID-19.

Reporting by George Obulutsa; Writing by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Ros Russell