Kenya Mulls Suspending Flights Over New Virus Strain

Kenya will consider closing its airspace to a number of airlines in response to a new variant of the novel coronavirus, which is reported to be up to 70 percent more transmissible than the current strain.

Kenya Civil Aviation Authority director-general Gilbert Kibe said the review of protocols will be done after government to government discussions.

"Discussions are on over the new Covid-19 strain and its impacts on travel. We are waiting for guidance" said Mr Kibe.

According to sources from the Kenya Airways, the management is waiting for the communication from the Ministry of Health over any travel restriction.

"We are restricted in giving any directive regarding our future travels to UK as we are waiting for communication from Ministry of Health, we cannot talk much. Let's wait for official communication," said a senior KQ official who requested not to be named as the information is premature.

Hoteliers are also worried that stopping the flights from the UK as other 40 countries have done will further harm their businesses, which are on the mend following devastation by the pandemic.

The UK is a key source market for Kenya's tourism sector but a new variant of coronavirus has led countries including Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Finland Iran, Jordan, Hong Kong to suspend flights from Britain while others have shut their borders to stem transmission of the virus.

Kenya Tourism Federation Chairman Mohammed Hersi and the Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers Coast executive Sam Ikwaye said the country should not be quick to stop UK flights.

"We need not fear. We need to stand with the UK and support them. The direction of shutting out airspace will give room for fear. We must treat this pandemic the same way we face terrorism. We should not impose advisories every time there's a pandemic," said Dr Ikwaye.

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