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Kenyans crowding in churches despite coronavirus ban? No, photos years old

“Some Kenyans overcrowd church halls today despite government and medical warnings to avoid overcrowded places,” reads a Facebook post from 22 March 2020.

It includes two photos of crowds of people packed into an auditorium.

“Kenyans online have condemned such church leaders warning that this is a medical but not a religious issue and they should heed the medical directives.” The post appears on at least two Kenyan Facebook group pages.

On 15 March president Uhuru Kenyatta announced measures to curb the spread of coronavirus in Kenya. They encouraged citizens to avoid crowded places, including places of worship. 

But do the photos show crowded churches just a few days later? We checked.

Photos from 2014 and 2016

A reverse image search of the first photo reveals that it’s six years old. It was published on 3 March 2014 in an article announcing the new Mavuno Church in Nairobi. It also appears on another web page, dated 27 June 2018.

A reverse image search of the second photo shows it was first posted on 15 October 2017 alongside others by Nairobi county senator Johnson Sakaja. 

He captioned it: “Enjoyed a lovely worship service earlier at AIPCA Bahati church together with H.E. @WilliamsRuto and other leaders. May God bless Kenya.”

On 23 March Kenya’s government banned all social gatherings, including in churches, mosques, shrines and bars. – Dancan Bwire


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