Following the inauguration of a 15-member Interfaith Council to deliberate on the protocol for reopening worship places in the country, members of the National Interfaith Council Thursday morning paid a courtesy call on Kakamega County deputy governor H.E. Prof. Philip Museve Kutima at the County headquarters offices, Kakamega.

The team is touring counties to update, consult and seek inputs from stakeholders on the process of safe reopening of worship places.

The deputy governor who is also the chairperson of the County COVID-19 Emergency Response Resource Mobilization Committee thanked them for their role in managing the pandemic and preventing further spread of the virus to their faithfuls and the community. He said Kakamega might be having far more cases than those already announced at the national level linking the low number of reported cases in the county to limited testing.

“Assist us in passing this important message to our people that COVID-19 is real; they need to exercise utmost caution during their day to day operations,” he said.

The deputy governor revealed that the county has also identified one facility at Manyala, Butere sub county to serve as an isolation centre for COVID-19 suspected cases from that region. Siaya county which borders Butere sub county is considered a COVID-19 high risk area and has so far reported a number of positive cases.

“With the current trend indicating a sharp rise in the reported cases nationally, safety of worshippers must be assured before we think of reopening churches, mosques and other worship places,” Prof. Kutima urged the leaders.

Kakamega County has already set aside three isolation centres for the disease one in the Northern region, another in the Central region and a third one in the Southern region (Mumias Hospital) which has fully been dedicated to handle COVID-19 cases. Two wings at the new Kakamega County Referral and Teaching Hospital (Central region) have been set aside for Isolation and ICU purposes for COVID-19 cases.

Rev. Father Joseph Mutie, the National Chair of the Inter-Faith Council and Chairman Inter Religious Council of Kenya, called on all men of cloth to ensure adequacy in water, sanitisers and testing equipment before reopening their worship centres. He however advised them against reopening before being fully prepared and urged the County Government to assist the committee in ensuring compliance to the protocols and guidelines of reopening.

In attendance were Mr. Luke Otipo administrator in the office of the deputy governor, Rev. Ben Shisia the NCCK Chair Kakamega, Sheikh Abdullah Ateka the chair of the local COVID-19 Interfaith Committee and Bishop Nicholas Olumasai, among others.