KRA hit by Covid-19 fears as 10 staff quarantined

Kenya Revenue Authority is the latest agency to be affected by Covid-19 after some of its staff tested positive for the viral disease.

Nation has learnt that over the last two weeks, part of the KRA staff  working at the Mombasa port have been on quarantine after coming into contact with a  foreign national who later tested positive for the Covid-19.

Sources say the agency has since put over 10 staff on quarantine after meeting Kenya Ports Authority staffers who tested positive.

Last week, KPA acting managing director Rashid Salim confirmed that two more KPA staff tested positive for coronavirus, sending 16 of his staff to quarantine at the Bandari Maritime Academy.

Due to increase in cases of infections at the facility, operations are set to be scaled down further.

Since KPA staffer Ursula Bumula succumbed to Covid-19 last week, tens of people were sent on mandatory quarantine while hundreds asked to self-isolate.

Documents seen by Nation shows that the affected officers at KPA range from those handling transshipments, berth records, export documentation and reconciliation departments, raising concerns that the pandemic threatens to slow activities at core areas within the Mombasa port.

Ideally, KPA, and KRA staff work hand in hand and with the staff in these key departments mingling, the exposure level is high, explaining why KRA is now the latest agency to be affected.

Communication seen by Nation shows KRA Custom Commissioner Kevin Safari informing staff that the agency had sent a further four officers on quarantine.

“To date, we have had to send nine officers on self-quarantine,” Mr Safari told the employees through a WhatsApp communication.

KRA staffers at the customs department have now been asked by Mr Safari to immediately stop receiving paper documents from third parties, including custom folders.

“Ask importers, custom agents and transporters to scan and email all their correspondence. Do not invite or allow anyone into your workspace, including fellow staff,” Mr Safari directed “Wear gloves, and face masks while on duty and if they are not available, buy them using office imprest. There should absolutely be no meeting of more than six people. Take covid-19 seriously. This time it is personal.”

The death of Mark Mbua, a general manager for terminal operation at Mitchell Cotts has also now seen the revenue collection agency, together with KPA tighten monitoring of its staff as they normally must interact with those from clearing agents.

Already, Mitchell Cotts has sent part of its staff on self-quarantine as a precaution, following Mbua’s demise on Sunday, as result of Covid-19.

Grace Wandera, KRA Deputy Commissioner for Marketing and Communications, told Nation that the agency has notified and is working closely with the relevant authorities on the case management protocols for its employees who have exhibited Covid-19 symptoms.

“These employees are currently exercising self-quarantine under the close supervision of Ministry of Health (MoH) officials and our in-house corporate healthcare management teams. The locations where our colleagues serve have also been sanitised as per the Ministry of Health directions and surveillance continues to be maintained,” Ms.Wandera said, adding that the medical reports of those who may have tested positive remain confidential.

The taxman has also now provided its staff working in high risk areas personal protective equipment.

“Our facilities teams at all locations are also regularly sanitising the workspaces, particularly any high traffic, high contact areas,” Ms. Wangera said.

KRA has also since cut down on its staff in non-core areas, with non-crucial staff asked to work from home or remotely.

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