Kenya won’t ban international flights over Covid variant, PS says

Monday November 29 2021
Planes at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi.

Planes at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. Kenya has no immediate plans to ban international flights following the detection of the Covid-19 super variant. PHOTO | FILE | NMG


Kenya has no immediate plans to ban international flights following the detection of the Covid-19 super variant.

Health Principal Secretary (PS) Susan Mochache said the government has stepped surveillance in all entry points across the country to monitor the spread of the new Omicron variant.

The PS noted that the country's economy should be kept running during this Covid-19 pandemic.

“We will not stop international flights. But we are monitoring all people travelling from countries that have reported several cases of the new variant to ensure that our people are safe,'' said Ms Mochache.

Read: Kenya on high alert after Covid 'super variant' reported in South Africa

Speaking at Nyaura Primary School in Kisii County on Sunday, she said that Kenyans should not panic.


"We are not taking chances. We are doing everything possible to ensure that all citizens are safe from the new variant," said Ms Mochache.

Coronavirus variant

She said the new Omicron variant, which has largely been reported in southern Africa, is a concern globally and Kenya is keenly monitoring the situation.

Already, the UK has imposed travel bans on South Africa and its neighbours Zimbabwe, eSwatini, Namibia, Lesotho and Botswana following the emergence of the new coronavirus variant.

But the South African government has since reacted to the UK, saying the move was “rushed.”    

Direct flights from the affected countries have been banned from entering the UK.  

This comes after at least 59 cases of the new strain, the B.1.1.529, which is feared to be more transmissible and evades vaccines, was detected in South Africa and Botswana as well as Hong Kong.

Ms Mochache asked Kenyans to shun propaganda doing rounds in social media against the Covid-19 vaccines.

"Let us ignore the propaganda and take the vaccine. The Kenyan government will continue putting measures to avoid the spread of Covid-19. There are enough vaccines for all Kenyans and we will continue with our sensitisation campaigns to ensure all Kenyans take the jab,” said the Health PS.

Several mutations

She explained that there were several mutations of the Covid-19 virus globally and that Kenyans should not lower the guard.

''While the government is doing everything possible to manage the spread of Covid-19, Kenyans should observe the Covid-19 protocols," said Ms Mochache.

She notes that social distancing, wearing of face masks correctly and handwashing remain key in preventing the spread of Coronavirus.

The PS said that from statistics there are very minimal deaths or severe illness for people who are vaccinated against Covid-19. She said that several strides had been achieved in the fight against the coronavirus.  

''The government is keen on ensuring that economic activities are not affected, that is why we are not supporting the reintroduction of tough containment measures,'' said Ms Mochache.

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