BY SAM ALFAN.
Health Ministry has opposed an application seeking to suspend the government’s order sending people for compulsory quarantine to check the spread of coronavirus.
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe has told the high court that the decision was taken to prevent further spread of Covid-19.
In his reply to a case filed by activist Okiyah Omtatah, Mutahi said the case has no merit and ought to be dismissed.
Mutahi added that if the said orders were to be issued in the interim, the same would reverse the gains made so far.
The government has advocated for social and physical distancing , the wearing of face mask, the restrictions of movement into and out of geographical areas that have been identified as having or likely to have high incidences of infections.
The CS said granting the order as prayed by Omtatah would be detrimental to the containment of the spread of Covid-19 and against general public interest.
The CS said he was advised by the expert from the health ministry that Covid-19 is spread primarily through respiratory droplets, little blobs of liquid released as someone coughs, sneezes or talks.
“Virus contained in these droplets can infect other people via the eyes, nose or mouth either when they land directly on somebody’s face or when they’re transferred there by people touching their face with contaminated hands,” said Kagwe.
Kagwe added that due to emergency circumstances occasioned by the rapid spread of Covid-19, the need for immediate action to prevent and control the spread of the same and public consultations was not feasible prior to the publication of the rules.
In the petition, Omtatah urged the High court to suspend the government order requiring people to go for compulsory quarantine among others.
In his application the activist is further seeking an interim order prohibiting the Ministry of Health and their agents from implementing LN No. 46 of April 3, 2020, and LN Nos. 50, 51, 52 and 53 of April 6, 2020 pending hearing and determination of the case.
He questioned the constitutional validity of sections 11(1) & (4) and 14 of the Statutory Instruments Act, No. 23 of 2013 and the decisions made by the Government to require individuals to go into compulsory quarantine for public health protection without obtaining a magistrate’s order authorising the same.
He said it was unfair decisions for the Government to force people into compulsory quarantine for public health protection in places other than of their own, voluntary choice or accommodation provided by the government, to meet the costs of their own confinement.
“Arbitrarily extending the period of compulsory quarantine for all individuals in a specified quarantine facility for public health protection beyond the period initially imposed and failure by the Government to ensure individuals who are detained for public health protection are accommodated adequately to guard against the spread of the disease while in such isolation,” reads the court papers.
The activist says that the threats and violations of the Constitution arise from the Government’s irregular and unlawful enactment through unconstitutional executive fiat bordering on fascism of legal Notice No. 46 of April 3, 2020 (The Public Health (Prevention, Control And Suppression of Covid-19) Rules, 2020) and legal Notice No. 50 of April 6, 2020 (The Public Health (COVID-19 Restriction of Movement of Persons and Related Measures) Rules, 2020).