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On the day the Kenyan shilling plunged to its lowest level against the US dollar in nine years, the government on Thursday came up with an elaborate plan to fight the spread of the coronavirus while avoiding a national lockdown that could sent the country into its worst recession.

A Cabinet meeting resolved that the country is not ready for a national shutdown, for fear that it would, in addition to paralysing the economy, trigger political and social chaos. Instead, the government is considering “localised” lockdowns.

Sources with knowledge of the meeting’s proceedings said the government will undertake a density mapping of the country — to find out who lives where and how they can be provided with food, water and security. The government will use its reserves to provide these services before considering locking down parts of the country.

The shilling took a major hit, to exchange at a record low of Sh109.3 against the dollar in Thursday’s trading session, sliding past the worst record of October 2011, against strong rumours of an impending lockdown.

The announcement by Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe that no new cases had been confirmed is likely to ease pressure on the shilling today.

Meanwhile, the private sector continued to pile pressure on the government to provide incentives to protect jobs.


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