The Ministry of Health has raised concerns of the newly identified coronavirus variant spreading in South Africa directing all inbound travelers into the country to have negative Covid-19 PCR taken 96 hours before arrival.
In a statement, Ministry of Health Director-General Dr. Patrick Amoth said all passengers travelling to Kenya from Botswana, South Africa and Hong Kong will be subjected to enhanced COVID-19 surveillance measures.
He has also directed all national and county health facilities to prepare to handle a potential increase in number of new cases.
“Special emphasis should be placed on availability of critical care facilities, piped oxygen and additional human resource surge capacity,” read the statement.
He encouraged all eligible Kenyans to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 given the now abundant supply of the vaccines in the country.
“All Points of Entry must conduct rigorous screening of all arriving passengers from the affected countries, with physical proof of vaccination prior to entry into the country for all inbound travelers,” he said.
He urged all Kenyans whether vaccinated or not to continue adhering to the public health social measures including proper wearing of masks, social distancing, hand washing with soap and water and use of sanitizers.
A new variant of Covid-19 was detected in Botswana, South Africa and Hong Kong, with the highest number of mutations.
This variant, christened B.1.1.529, carries 32 mutations, which makes it highly transmissible and with potential for vaccine escape.
The variant was first identified at the start of this week, but Britain rushed to introduce travel restrictions on South Africa and five neighbouring countries, acting much more swiftly than with the currently dominant Delta variant.
Britain yesterday announced that it was temporarily banning flights from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Eswatini from 1200 GMT on today, and that returning British travellers from those destinations would have to quarantine.
The country is currently witnessing a decreased number of confirmed Covid-19 cases with 254,862 cases reported as of November 26, a total of 5,333 deaths and a case fatality rate of 2.1 per cent.