UK spares Kenya Covid ‘high risk’ countries tag

Thursday, January 28th, 2021 00:00 |
Britain’s Foreign Affairs Secretary Dominic Raab addresses the press at a Nairobi hotel during his day one official visit on January 20. Photo/PD/JOHN OCHIENG

Britain last night excluded Kenya from a list of 30 “high risk” countries whose nationals will be required to quarantine in UK hotels for 10 days before being allowed to enter the country.

Initial reports published by UK newspaper Daily Mail had indicated Kenya would be on the list of countries whose nationals would be subjected to strict Covid-19 protocols before being allowed entry.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Parliament that passengers will be “met at the airport and transported directly into quarantine”.

The initial reports had indicated that the high risk countries would include Brazil, South Africa, Portugal, Kenya, Nigeria, Ethiopia, much of South America and southern Africa and that they were chosen because of dangerous variants that had emerged there - or because they had experienced skyrocketing infections and death rates.

But when Home Secretary Priti Patel eventually released the list of the 30 affected countries Kenya was not among them.

Instead, neighbouring Tanzania, Malawi, Botswana, Lesotho, South Africa, Angola, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe are among African countries on the list.

Passengers arriving in Britain from any of the listed countries will have to isolate for 10 days in hotels near airports and pay around £1,500 for the stay.   

Said Johnson: “We have also banned all travel from the countries where there is a risk of known variants including South Africa, Portugal and South American nations.

“They will be met at the airport and transported directly into quarantine. The Department of Health and Social Care is working to establish these facilities as quickly as possible.”

And in order to reduce the risk posed by UK nationals and residents returning home from the affected countries, the PM announced that they will require all such arrivals - because they cannot be banned from coming home - to isolate in government-provided accommodation, such as hotels, for 10 days, without exception.

He is introducing an Australian-style quarantine scheme following concerns about new Covid-19 variants entering Britain.

Kenya, through the acting Director General of the Ministry of Health Patrick Amoth, last week confirmed two cases of the new Covid-19 variant detected in South Africa, which health authorities attributed to the recent jump in infections.

Amoth said the two men who tests showed they had the new South African variant had since left the country.

British advisory

The British advisory comes a week after UK’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab visited Kenya and held talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta and various government officials where he reaffirmed London’s support for the Covid-19 vaccine rollout.

His visit was followed by that of Defence Secretary Ben Wallace who left Kenya two days ago.

It also came on the day Kenya’s Covid-19 fatalities climbed to 1,751 following the death of one more patient as positive cases dropped to 130 from 141 in the last 24 hours.

Health CS Mutahi Kagwe said the confirmed positive cases have now hit 100,323. A total of 4,918 samples were tested between Tuesday afternoon and yesterday, taking the cumulative tests so far done in the last 10 months to 1,167, 409.

“From the cases 115 are Kenyans while 15 are foreigners, 88 of these are males while 42 are females with the youngest and oldest being a four-month-old infant and the oldest is 88.

In the latest Covid-19 update, Nairobi still retains the top spot as the virus hostpot with 66 confirmed positive cases followed by Taita Taveta (18), Mombasa (nine), Nakuru and Narok (six) each; Siaya, Uasin Gishu, Kiambu, and Kisii (four) each; while Kisumu, Bungoma, Busia, Kajiado, Kakamega, Nyamira and Nyandarua have a case each.

The CS said a total of 66 patients had recovered from the disease out of which 42 are from Home-Based Isolation and Care while 24 are from various facilities. “The total recoveries now stand at 83, 691,” he added.

There are 489 patients currently admitted to various health facilities countrywide, while 1, 353 are on Home-Based Isolation and care.

The latest Covid-19 update shows 28 patients are currently fighting for their lives in the Intensive Care Unit.

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