Kenya issues fresh guidelines on new COVID-19 variant
All persons entering Kenyan borders will be subjected to a mandatory presentation of a negative COVID-19 certificate.
This follows a new variant of the virus that has been detected in Botswana, South Africa, and Hong Kong, thus posing a threat to Kenya which has seen a significant drop in COVID cases for the past two months.
This variant, christened B.1.1.529, carries 32 mutations which makes it highly transmissible and with potential for vaccine escape.
“So far, cases of the new variant are restricted to the three countries, but given its ease of transmission and a global return to mass movements, there is need for increased vigilance at all our points of entry,” says Dr. Patrick Amoth, the interim Director-General for Health, Ministry of Health.
And with what appears to be fresh guidelines to prevent the variant from hitting Kenyan shows, Dr. Amoth has issued the following measures which will be adhered to in total compliance, that;
1. All national and county health facilities should prepare to handle a potential increase in the number of new cases as per recently reviewed COVID-19 case management guidelines. Special emphasis should be placed on the availability of critical care facilities, piped oxygen, and additional human resource surge capacity.
2. All eligible Kenyans are strongly encouraged to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 given the now abundant supply of vaccines in the country.
3. All Points of Entry (POE) must conduct rigorous screening of all arriving passengers from the affected countries, with physical proof of vaccination prior to entry into the country for all inbound travelers.
4. All inbound travelers into Kenya must be in possession of a NEGATIVE COVID-19 PCR taken 96 hours before arrival into the country.
5. The established relevant testing and genomic sequencing centers are directed to continue active genomic surveillance to inform on the circulating variants and appropriate mitigation measures.
Dr. Amoth has urged all Kenyans whether vaccinated or not to continue adhering to the public health social measures including the proper wearing of masks, social distancing, hand washing with soap and water and use of sanitizers.