Police in Kenya have arrested 20 people, who disguised themselves as mourners sending remains of their kindred for burial to evade the country’s COVID-19 lockdown.
The group of fake mourners, with a coffin strapped atop the roof of a van, lied their way through police checkpoints, traveling 380 kilometers from the capital, Nairobi to the West of the country with the empty.
The first group of eight mourners were intercepted by security officials implementing the lockdown after curious neighbors demanded to see the body last Tuesday, Kenya’s Daily Nation reported.
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And the second group of 12 fake mourners sneaked out of the capital on Saturday to the western Kenyan town of Homa Bay county. They were arrested in an operation led by the Rachuonyo North Deputy County Commissioner, James Mabeya, The Standard reported. They were attending the funeral of a relative.
“We got a tip-off from the public that the twelve were traveling to this sub-county. I mobilized my security team before we got hold of them,” Mabeya told the outlet.
President Uhuru Kenyatta imposed travel restrictions in and out of Nairobi and other regions of the country two weeks earlier.
The East African country has so far recorded 270 confirmed cases of the deadly disease with 67 recoveries and 14 deaths as the global toll hits 2,406,745 confirmed cases with 165,257 deaths. Over 625,000 have recovered.
The driver, who sneaked the fake mourners to the western Kenyan town of Homa Bay later tested positive for the coronavirus, the first in the town. This, according to the Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe, has put the lives of 28,000 at risk, reported Daily Nation.
“We could lose as many as 28,000 Kenyans unless we start taking safety measures seriously. This is not a time for cat-and-mouse games. The number of deaths that will be recorded will depend on our level of discipline,” Kagwe warned.
“By now, you should have noticed that the higher the samples the higher the number of new cases. This speaks both to the urgency to test as many Kenyans as possible, and for every Kenyan to assume the next one is positive and therefore take precautionary measures,” he said
“This is not the time to confuse our people or to engage in publicity theatrics. While we encourage acts of charity, we advise Kenyans to get factual public health information from credible sources, such as professional healthcare providers, the Ministry of Health, and the World Health Organization,” Kagwe added.