Kenya says no Covid lockdown even as cases surge

Thursday December 16 2021
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe

Kenya's Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe. FILE PHOTO | NMG


Kenya will not impose restrictions such as lockdowns following the detection of Omicron variant cases among two Kenyan travellers and a South African who entered the country last week.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said Kenya has instead rooted for vaccinating its citizens in a bid to curb the spread of the variant.

“We are not going to announce lockdowns and new curfew measures soon. The only way to avoid another lockdown is vaccination,” he said on Wednesday.

The announcement came hours after he had said there were no new variant cases in the country despite rising coronavirus cases.

The positivity rate in Kenya has been increasing with 799 new Covid-19 cases reported Wednesday alone, the highest number recorded in a day in recent months.

Data from the Health ministry shows that the positivity rate — the proportion of tests coming back positive — rose to 10.5 percent from 6.5 on Monday amid the emergence of the infectious Omicron variant.


Total confirmed positive cases are now 257,614 and cumulative tests so far conducted are 2,902,294.

The Omicron variant, which scientists say has a high number of mutations, was first detected in South Africa last month.

Cases have also been reported in travellers in Belgium, Israel and Hong Kong, among other nations.

The variant has prompted countries such as Israel and United Arab Emirates to impose travel bans on several southern African countries against the advice of the World Health Organization.

On Monday, operator of Ghana’s Kotoka International Airport in Accra announced it will fine airlines $3,500 for every passenger they fly in who is not vaccinated against Covid-19 or who tests positive for the coronavirus upon arrival.

Kenya’s economy, like others, has been hit by the pandemic, as Covid-19 restrictions reduced revenues and stifled growth.

Economic output contracted for the first time in nearly three decades last year, pummelled by the impact of the coronavirus crisis on key sectors such as tourism.