US issues warning to Kenya of a biochemical terror attack

Looming threat

President Uhuru Kenyatta with fomer U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec

The United States government has issued a warning to Kenya over a potential biological terror attack from various lab germs not properly stored within the country’s health facilities and medical research laboratories.

A document released in December 2018 by the Ministry of Health, indicated that concerns were raised over pathogens being stored in the health facilities and at the Kenya Medical Research Institute - posing a serious threat to the nation.

“Kemri has multiple biological organisms and other materials that are stored in many labs (in fridges and frozen in nitrogen chambers) within the institute.

"These pose a great threat to the community as organisms can accidentally, by purpose or by natural disaster, leak to the community and cause havoc.

"Criminals or terrorists can also use them for their evil intention. We therefore take this project seriously,” read part of the document.

The warning by the super power nation as stated within the Ministry of Health’s mid-term expenditure framework document covering 2019 to 2022, has led to the construction of a secure storage facility at KEMRI as reported by Business Daily.

16 lethal pathogens stored in labs

According to a biosecurity survey that was carried in the country in 2015, 16 lethal biological agents were stated to be stored in various labs in Kenya.

The construction of the facility is being handled by the Defence Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) which is under the US government.

The sample storage centre will cost the US approximately Sh607 million with Kenya expected to set up security and CCTV cameras within the facility at a cost of Sh50 million.

Kenya will, however, be required to add another Sh40 million to facilitate the running of the security software for the next five years.

The report explained that the upcoming storage centre design would help to reduce the threat to the country.

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