“I am sorry for the pain I have caused.” These are the words of Kilifi County Deputy Governor Gideon Saburi, who is on the sixth day of quarantine at the Coast General Hospital in Mombasa.
“I am very remorseful for bringing anxiety on coronavirus spread in Kilifi County and the entire country, and hope that people will find a heart to forgive me,” Mr Saburi told the Saturday Nation on phone.
Mr Saburi, a father of three, also asked Kenyans to observe government instructions and regulations in the fight against the spread of Covid-19, which has killed thousands of people across the world.
“Coronavirus is real. I call upon people to take precaution seriously,” he said, adding that he felt bad for having travelled to Germany because he now “bears the blame of the virus spread in Kilifi”.
He said: “I am a responsible person. I am a leader, a family man and a mentor to many. I did not do this on purpose.”
The deputy governor dismissed reports that have painted him as a selfish and irresponsible leader for refusing to quarantine himself for 14-days upon his return.
“When I travelled to Germany, conditions and guidelines on coronavirus and self-isolation were not clear,” he said.
“There were no clear guidelines set upon my return; I did not do that intentionally. I cannot be careless enough to roam around infecting other people knowing well that I have Covid-19. All those years I have kept a clean bill of conduct. I have worked diligently and responsibly, discharging my duties as both CEC and deputy governor.
“I have never indulged in any corrupt dealings to warrant complaints concerning my personality until coronavirus came in,” he said.
Upon his return to Kenya on March 6, Mr Saburi said he went to Mombasa Hospital for a check-up and was admitted for three days.
“Doctors later cleared me. I proceeded to quarantine myself for three more days before embarking on work,” he said.
“By then, Germany had not been marked as a coronavirus hotspot.”
Mr Saburi admitted mingling with Governor Amason Kingi and other leaders while attending funerals and other public functions.
“I attended funerals to condole with bereaved families and other gatherings in my rural home in Rabai, bearing in mind the nature of my job and position in society,” he said.
“This was part of my planned programme after returning from Germany.”
Last week, Mr Kingi said the tourism trade fair which his deputy was supposed to attend in Berlin was cancelled due to the coronavirus threat.
Mr Saburi said he learned of the cancellation while at the airport after calling Trade and Tourism executive Nahida Athman to inquire when she would attend the event.
“My governor had cleared me to attend the fair; the county secretary gave me a letter confirming the same. Before travelling, I spoke with the governor but we did not talk about the cancellation,” he said.
After learning that the fair had been cancelled when he had already booked a hotel room and air ticket, Mr Saburi said he proceeded to travel with the aim of meeting other tourism stakeholders.
“Instead of 10 days as earlier planned, I stayed in Germany for three days. By then the country had not been marked as a hotspot.”
Mr Saburi said that he was on self-quarantine when Governor Kingi called and advised him to go complete the remainder of the days at an isolation centre in Mombasa County.
“This followed reports that I was not observing the quarantine. I have two residences in Mombasa where I live with my children and spouse. I went to a supermarket to buy food stocks and that is when I was accused of disregarding the quarantine order,” he said.
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