Kenya suspends in-person meetings to curb COVID-19 spread

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NAIROBI, July 30 (Reuters) - Kenya's health minister said on Friday the government had suspended all in-person meetings and public gatherings to try to contain COVID-19, whose spread in the country he now attributes to the more infectious Delta variant.

Mutahi Kagwe said in a televised address that the government had asked public and private-sector employers to allow their workers to work from home, unless they were classified as essential services.

"All public gatherings and in-person meetings of whatever nature are suspended countrywide. In this regard, all government, including intergovernmental meetings and conferences, should henceforth be converted to either virtual or postponed in the coming 30 days," he said.

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Kagwe singled out politicians for holding meetings that turn out to be "super spreader" events.

"We want to be part of the solution. We are asking those in politics to be part of the solution instead of creating epicentres of spreading of the disease," he said. "There is no point of calling all these rallies, and then we follow with all these deaths."

Waves of COVID-19 infections this year have forced Kenya to re-impose strict partial lockdown measures.

As of Thursday, Kenya had registered 200,109 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 3,910 deaths, health ministry data showed.

It had vaccinated 1.7 million people, of whom 647,393, or 2.37% of adults, are fully vaccinated.

Kenya has been expecting from next week to start receiving more vaccines, comprising 700,000 AstraZeneca (AZN.L) shots from Britain, Greece and Latvia.

The health ministry has said it will also receive another 1.76 million doses of the vaccine developed by Pfizer (PFE.N) and BioNTech (22UAy.DE), starting two weeks from now, once storage facilities to handle them are in place.

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Reporting by George Obulutsa; Editing by Alison Williams, William Maclean and Timothy Heritage

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