No Plans To Ban Entry Into Kenya Over New COVID-19 Variant, PS Mochache Says

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Health PS Susan Mochache at a past press briefing.

Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache says at the moment there are no plans to ban people travelling from countries that have been hit by the new Omicron COVID-19 variant from entering into the country.

Speaking on Sunday in Kisii, the PS said the government has intensified surveillance at the entry points to the country and all persons will be screened and show proof that they have been vaccinated.

Mochache urged Kenyans to continue observing the MoH guidelines on combating the spread of the disease, so that the country can remain open to allow economic recovery, especially in this festive season when the tourism industry is expected to pick up.

“We cannot continue with an economic depression because of COVID-19. Families must continue to interact and people must continue to move,” stated the PS.

“What is important is the adherence to the protocols, making sure that the basics of washing hands, wearing masks and keeping social distance are maintained,” she added.In addition, Mochache reiterated the importance of getting vaccinated and urged those who are still hesitant to take the jab so that they can be safe.She said the current vaccines are effective against all the COVID-19 variants, adding that if all Kenyans could get the jab, then there would be no reason to worry.“Take the vaccine for the sake of protecting others, it is the only way to fight the Omicron, Delta and any other variant that will emerge as we move along,” noted Mochache.

Ministry of Health Director-General Dr. Patrick Amoth on Friday said all passengers travelling to Kenya from Botswana, South Africa and Hong Kong will be subjected to enhanced COVID-19 surveillance measures amid reports of a new variant in the said countries.

“Whilst passenger traffic may not be as significant from neighbouring Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini and Zimbabwe, enhanced surveillance protocols like quarantine and repeat testing will be applied to all passengers from all countries reporting the new variant,” added Dr. Amoth.

The new variant christened B.1.1.529 carries 32 mutations which makes it highly transmissible and with potential for vaccine escape.

Meanwhile the United Kingdom has banned flights from South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini and Zimbabwe. 

UK’s Health Minister Sajid Javid said all six countries will be added to the red list, meaning UK residents and British and Irish nationals arriving home from those points of departure must undergo a 10-day hotel quarantine at their own expense.

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