Public health (Coronavirus and COVID-19) (Prevention, Containment and Management) Rules, 2020

SUMMARY

1. Introduction

(1) The Rules are subsidiary legislation made under the Public Health Act, and are aimed at preserving public health in the country through preventing and containing the spread of the Corona virus and regulating management of COVID-19 patients.

(2) The Rules are informed by global public health knowledge on the pandemic.

(3) The Rules are temporary and will be reviewed periodically to ensure they remain an effective tool for containment and management of Corona virus/COVID-19. So far, three amendments have been made to the Rules. 

(4) Some of the measures contained in the Rules are already being implemented and complied with, voluntarily, by the citizenry. However, there is need for further enforcement on testing for Covid-19 as a travel requirement and universal wearing of masks.

(5) The Rules do not provided for a lockdown, hence the Country is not on partial, full or any form of lockdown. The Minister of Health may, where determined necessary to control the spread of the Virus, declare an area as a restricted area.

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2. Measures to be implemented by individuals to prevent the spread of the Corona virus

(1) Preventive measures (Rule 3)

(a) wear a face mask when in a public place;

NOTE : A face mask is any face covering that covers both the nose and mouth. The purpose of wearing a face mask is to ensure that the mouth and nose are covered. The face masks are not only restricted to surgical, tailored cloth masks and face shields. The citizenry can use other material like “chitenje” or scarves to cover their noses and mouths when in public

(b) keep a social distance of at least one metre from other persons;

(c) wash hands frequently with soap and water or use alcohol based hand sanitizer;

(d) if hands are dirty or soiled, don’t use hand sanitizer, rather, wash hands with soap;

(e) when coughing or sneezing, cover nose and mouth with handkerchief or tissue paper or sneeze into a flexed elbow;

(f) refrain from touching face, mouth, nose and eyes; and

(g) avoid handshakes.

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(2) Actions by persons with Covid-19 symptoms (Rule 4)

(a) self-isolate; and

(b) get tested at a designated health facility or testing centre or call toll free line 54747 or any other line designated by the Ministry.

(3) Actions by persons diagnosed with Covid-19 (Rule 5)

(i) follow instructions given by a health worker;

(ii) where ordered to self-isolate, remain in isolation until advised to leave;

(iii) where admitted to hospital, remain in hospital until discharged; and

(iv) don’t go to a public place, until certified negative.

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(4) People under obligation to report suspected cases or deaths (Rule 6)

(i) employer;

(ii) head of family or, in his absence, a family member;

(iii) head of an institution; 

(iv) guardian;

(v) traditional leader; or

(vi) religious leader.

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(5) Handling of COVID-19 related deaths (Rule 7)

(i) burial to take place within the shortest time possible, not later than 24 hours.

(ii) not more than ten persons should handle the dead body; 

(iii) the body should be handled and buried by health officials or a designated burial team in the community;

(iv) other persons, other than members of the designated burial team, should not be allowed to enter the room where the dead body is; and

(v) the burial team should wear personal protective equipment.

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(6) Follow-up actions by a health worker/community health committee after burial of a person with, or suspected of, COVID-19 who dies in the community (R8)

Ensure that- 

(a) the household where the death occurred is disinfected;

(b) all persons residing in the household are tested;

(c) a member of the household who tests positive is self-isolated or quarantined; 

(d) a member who tests negative is self-isolated for a period of at least 10 days and tested again thereafter; and

(e) all persons who were in contact with the deceased in the last 14 days should go for a COVID-19 test and self- isolate.

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3. Measures to be implemented and enforced by Government to contain spread of Corona virus and management of COVID-19 patients

Compulsory testing and treatment of people

Enforcement officer can order- 

(a) mandatory testing, detention and treatment of any individual suspected or who tests positive for COVID-19;

(b) disinfection of baggage, personal effects, household or building;

(c) evacuation of any building or premises, for a period not exceeding 48 hours, to facilitate disinfection; 

(d) detention, isolation or quarantine of an individual (at home, hospital or isolation centre); or 

(e) discharge of an individual from detention, isolation or quarantine centre.

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4. Person in institutional detention or quarantine 

(1) Entitlements- 

(i) basic necessities of life including nutrition and hygiene; 

(ii) to be released to access medical treatment not available at the detention centre; and 

(iii) to be released to attend a funeral of a spouse, blood-child or parent.

(2) Obligations: to comply with conditions stated in the permit and observe general prevention measures.

5. Designation of enforcement officers (Rule 10) 

(1) DC, CEO of a City Council to designate enforcement officers;

(2) designated officers to be given a certificate; and

(3) certificate to be produced for inspection on demand by person affected by exercise of power by enforcement officer.

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6. Public gatherings (Rule 11) 

(1) Public gatherings of more than 50 people prohibited except-

(i) meetings of the National Assembly, and 

(ii) meetings convened to discuss COVID-19 interventions.

(iii) an education institution

(2) Condition for public gatherings: participants to comply with general preventive measures.

(3) An enforcement officer may order a public gathering to disperse and may use reasonable force to cause the public gathering to disperse.

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7. Sector specific measures

(1) Workplaces – 

(a) employer to 

(i) ensure provision of critical and accurate information on pandemic is relayed to employees;

(ii) put in place measures to avoid spread of the Corona Virus, including provision of facilitates to ensure compliance with general preventive measures by employees, visitors, customers, clients, etc including provision of masks to employees;

(iii) put in place monitoring and reporting mechanisms for suspected cases, deaths, etc;

(iv) develop work schedules and modalities that promote social distancing or minimize physical presence or contact including working in shifts; and

(v) designate isolation facility in case of infection at the work place

(b) employees to –

(i) adhere to general preventive measures and any additional measures instituted by the employer;

(ii) report any suspected cases to management

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(2) Public transporters – 

(a) compulsory compliance with general preventive measures by transporter’s crew and passengers on board;

(b) not to carry passengers with COVID-19 related symptoms;

(c) reduce seating capacity to 60%;

(d) compulsory sanitization of vehicle and related transport equipment;

(e) compulsory wearing of face masks by crew and passengers while on board;

(f) restrict unnecessary movement on board;

(g) no standing passengers on public transportation vehicles; 

(h) no animals on board vehicles or vessels;

(i) for international passengers, in addition to above measures, to- 

(a) passengers and crew to get tested at least 48 hours before departure time and obtain COVID-19 negative result certificate;

(b) where possible, the carrier to have isolation cabin for passengers who develop COVID-19 related symptoms while on board; and 

(c) passengers to be tested on arrival and non-residents to pay for test and quarantine costs.

(3) Education institutions – 

(1) Minister may, in consultation with the minister responsible for education, order closing or re-opening of schools in consultation with the Minster responsible for education. 

(2) When open, education institutions to comply with prescribed measures general prevention measures including hand washing, wearing of masks, sanitizing of premises; and holding of classes in shifts. 

(4) Hospitality and recreation facilities

(1) bars and drinking joints to operate from 2pm to 8 pm and on take away basis and no consumption of alcohol on the premises;

(2) bars in hospitality facilities to serve residents only (room service).

(3) restaurants to operate from 6am to 8 pm and ensure social distancing of customers, and where not possible, to provide take away and delivery service.

(4) Like all other public service facilities, bars and restaurants to ensure handwashing facilities are made available at the premises.

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(5) Trading 

(i) traders and customers to comply with general preventive measures;

(ii) trading to take place at registered premises and designated places only;

(iii) where applicable, provide markings to facilitate social distancing; and

(iv) traders to avoid overpricing of essential commodities.

8. Restricted Areas 

(1) Where there is a serious outbreak of cases in an area, the Minister may declare such geographical area as a restricted area for a specified period.

(2) Entry into and exit from a restricted area to be restricted.

(3) Activities and service delivery in the area to be restricted to essential services (listed in the seventh schedule). 

(4) Restaurants to operate take away service only.

(5) Bars and places of entertainment to be closed.

(6) Entry into and exit from restricted area allowed for delivery of essential services, to seek medical treatment or attend burial of blood-child, spouse or parent.

(7) For residents of restricted area, exercises restricted to radius of 1 km from residence and with family members only.

(8) Entry into and exit from restricted area allowed on production of permit obtained from a designated enforcement officer.

9. Offences and penalties 

(1) Not wearing a face mask in a public area, which has a fine of a maximum of K10,000.00.

(2) The following offences are punishable by a fine of a maximum of K100,000.00 and imprisonment for 3 months-

(a) falsely representing oneself as an enforcement officer;

(b) hindering, obstructing or improperly attempting to influence an enforcement officer when exercising or performing his functions;

(c) giving false or misleading information to an enforcement officer or any other person;

(d) convening, hosting or attending a public gathering;

(e) disobeying an order of an enforcement officer;

(f) unauthorized exit from detention, isolation, quarantine or restricted area and unauthorized entry into a restricted area; 

(g) breach of any of the provisions of the Rules; 

(h) Contravening any condition specified in a temporary release or entry permit into or exit from detention, isolation, quarantine centre or restricted area; and

(i) transporting passengers without a Covid-19 negative certificate.

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(3) In addition to the monetary penalties, the rules provide for the revocation of licences of transport operators, operators of public service facilities. 

10. NOTE

(1) A person who escapes or attempts to escape from any place of detention, isolation or quarantine may be arrested without a warrant.

(2) An enforcement officer may announce names of people who escape from detention, isolation or quarantine centres through the ADC, VDC, print or electronic media.

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