Kenya: You Will Need Digital Health Pass to Leave, Enter Kenya

An official from the Nairobi Health Department disinfects a street (file photo).
12 January 2021

All inbound and outbound travellers to Kenya are now required to present digitally verified proof of a negative Covid-19 test, the Health ministry has announced.

In line with the Africa CDC Trusted Traveller (TT) initiative, an online system designed to authenticate and verify travellers' Covid-19 certificates, no Kenyan laboratory will issue Covid-19 certificates without Trusted Travel codes.

In a statement by Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe, the digital verification codes will ensure integrity of presented certificates, which until yesterday were presented on printed paper and were susceptible to forgery. "Starting Monday, no traveller will depart from Kenya without verification of their certificates using the TT process," noted Mr Kagwe's statement, adding that no laboratory is permitted to issue Covid-19 certificated without the codes.

This means that if you intend to depart the country, you must first visit an authorised laboratory, obtain a PCR Covid-19 test with a negative result, and be issued a TT code that can be verified by airlines and immigration authorities. According to the government, all PCR Covid-19 testing laboratories are now part of the TT system.

Covid-19 test

The traveller will receive a text message from PanaBios, a biosurveillance and bioscreening technology system, as well as an email from the testing laboratory and/or from admin@panabios.org with a link to guide them on how to generate a Travel Code at trustedtravel.panabios.org. If the test results meet Kenya's exit requirements, a travel Code is issued to the traveller online.

"In-bound travellers from countries yet to onboard to the trusted travel initiative will use a toll made available through the UNDP-supported global haven partnership for Covid-19 test results and vaccine certificates verification," added the CS.

The government, however, did not issue clear procedures of how the verification system works for incoming travellers, who also need to present a negative Covid certificate.

"The embassy is seeking clarification of this new requirement for incoming travellers and will report any additional information to the US citizen community," said the US Embassy to Kenya in an advisory statement posted on its website for its citizens. According to Pathologists Lancet Kenya CEO Ahmed Kalebi, dry runs on the trust traveller initiative were done at the laboratory between December and January 1.

Pretest request forms

"Besides us, Kemri and Mama Lucy Hospital were also picked to test the system. Some of the few teething problems we faced included whether data of the results are to be uploaded onto the integrated system in real-time or not, which were then solved," he said, adding that the pretest request forms previously used needed to be updated to capture some missing information like the travellers' passport number.

Covid-19 test results are frequently presented on printed paper, which has become susceptible to forgery. In addition, there is no standard format or certification system for lab results. Meanwhile, Transport CS James Macharia yesterday said the country has not issued any 'stricter measures' to the UK, where a new strain of the virus has been recorded. In a telephone interview, Mr Macharia noted that as long as one tests Covid-19 negative, they would be allowed into the country.

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