Kenya Says No Plan to Shut Borders Due to New Covid-19 Variant From South Africa

28 November 2021

Nairobi — Kenya said Sunday it was not planning to close its borders immediately due to the new Omicron COVID-19 variant believed to have originated from South Africa.

According to Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache, the government was determined to ensure Kenyans operate in an environment that is not hampered by an economic depression as a result of the pandemic.

She, however, pointed out that surveillance has been stepped up in various points of entry where everyone will be screened and show proof that they have been vaccinated.

"Like all countries in the world, we have heightened our surveillance, people coming in from the affected countries will need to have adhered to the country's COVID 19 regulations," said Mochache.

She also encouraged those yet to be vaccinated against COVID 19, to secure themselves as they are resistant to all the variants that have been detected so far.

She was speaking on Sunday at Nyaura Primary School in Nyaribari Chache Kisii, County during an inspection tour of the school.

The Omicron COVID-19 variant which was detected last week in South Africa has been identified in Europe - two in the UK, two in Germany, one in Belgium and another one in Italy, while a suspected case was found in the Czech Republic.

The United Kingdom and Israel have banned flights from South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini and Zimbabwe over the fast-spreading variant.

The new variant carries 32 mutations which makes it highly transmissible.

On Sunday, a total of 6,939,559 vaccines were administered across the country, with the government looking to meet its target of 10 million vaccinated by end of 2021.

Nairobi County continues to lead with 27% of the population been fully vaccinated followed by Nyeri county at 21.3%, Kiambu 15.9%, Laikipia 13.7% with West Pokot, Turkana, Mandera and Marsabit having less than 2% of the population fully vaccinated.

In the meantime, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe announced that 11 more people had tested positive for the disease, from a sample size of 2,463 tested Saturday.

Total confirmed positive cases stood at 254,951.

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