Police officers in Kirinyaga County stormed the compound of a church on Thursday, March 19 and ordered the congregation to leave the premises.
The officers were called after the faithful disobeyed area chief David Githinji and two of his assistants who had asked them to vacate the premises, following orders by President Uhuru Kenyatta for Kenyans to avoid gatherings.
The Christians who had assembled at Kibirigwi Deliverance Church in Ndia Constituency were from Nyeri, Laikipia and Kirinyaga counties.
According to Citizen Digital, Rev. Mark Kihara alleged that the clergy was sensitizing members on the Coronavirus pandemic.
Githinji stated that the congregants later complied with the order after they were educated on the importance of keeping social distance and washing hands to prevent the spread of the virus.
During a press conference on Sunday, March 15, President Uhuru Kenyatta directed Kenyans to avoid congregating in places of worship, minimize attendance in social gatherings including weddings and funerals, and restrict the same with immediate family members.
He asked that people avoid crowded places including shopping malls and entertainment premises, as well as minimize visiting hospitalized patients in public and private hospitals.
Following the president’s directive, a couple of churches have since cancelled their Sunday services including; CITAM, All Saints’ Cathedral, Nairobi Chapel and PCEA.
Some churches, however, have opted to continue with Sunday services but have taken the necessary precautions to avoid the spread of the disease.
According to a report by the World Health Organisation, standard recommendations to prevent infection and spread of the virus include:
i.) Avoiding close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.
ii.) Avoiding frequency of closed crowded spaces; maintain a distance of at least one meter from any individual displaying the COVID-19 symptoms (e.g., coughing, sneezing).
iii.) Performance of frequent hand hygiene, preferably using alcohol-based hand rubs if hands are not visibly soiled or soap and water when hands are visibly soiled.