President Uhuru Kenyatta cancelled two meetings scheduled for the Vatican and another, a security meeting in Mombasa slotted for Sunday, March 15.
A report by the Daily Nation on Sunday, March 15 indicated that the head of state had been expected to travel to the Vatican in Rome, Italy, from March 10 to 14. He was expected to meet Pope Francis.
President Kenyatta would have been the first Kenyan head of state to have visited the Vatican.President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto when they received Pope Francis after he arrived at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi on November 25, 2015.Daily Nation
The publication reported that the head of state had sent ahead an advance team that left the country on March 2, 2020, but was forced to cancel the trip after Italy put the whole country under total lockdown following the surging Coronavirus pandemic.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Italy, as of March 14, had 17,660 confirmed cases and 1,268 deaths.
A second advance team was scheduled to leave the country on March 6 but was forced to cancel after safety concerns had been raised and the first team had been ordered back to the country.
These reports are at the back of an announcement made by the head of state cancelling all flights from high-risk areas around the world. One of them, Italy.
On February 27, Pope Francis announced that the Vatican had slowed down on public gatherings and functions in what he termed as "slight indisposition".
The Pope had been seen coughing and sneezing on a previous date, raising concerns if he had contracted the Covid-19 virus. This happened after he had to meet pilgrims who had visited the Vatican grounds.
The Italian government has since ordered that all members of the public stay under lockdown as it battles to combat the spread of the virus.
On the other hand, President Kenyatta was set to meet Somali President Mohamed Farmaajo and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed at the State House Mombasa, following the tensions that have existed between Kenya and Somalia.
The meeting was called off on Friday, March 13 after both Kenya and Ethiopia confirmed their first cases of the Coronavirus.
“It will not be possible for the Kenya-Somalia-Ethiopia Tripartite Summit to take place as earlier scheduled on March 16, 2020,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated in a message sent to Ethiopia and Somali as reported by the publication.
The meeting was reportedly orchestrated by the head of state after he had sent Interior Cabinet Minister Fred Matiang'i and his team to Somalia and Ethiopia in the past week.President Uhuru Kenyatta with his Somalia counterpart Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo after the National Prayer Breakfast at Safari Park hotel in Nairobi on May 31, 2018.
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