The United Kingdom’s decision to put Kenya among some 40 countries banned from her territory due to the lethal variant of Covid-19 is understandable. The UK wants to protect its citizens, as a national duty.
First, the decision by the UK did not come as a surprise as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement wants Kenyans to believe. We have it on good authority that London has been in discussion with the Ministry of Health for some time now as it sought to understand how the country was particularly managing the genome sequencing.
In explaining the decision to place Kenya on the ‘Red List’, the UK stated that a third of travellers from Kenya testing positive for Covid had the South African vaccine-resistant variant. This is a statistic that should worry our Ministry of Health. Kenya has not responded to this finding, but has instead gone into a tirade against the UK government.
In addition, Kenya does not have the capacity to manage the more lethal third wave of Covid-19. In fact, the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) confirmed some time back that it does not even have the reagents to detect the new variant.
The ministry has been reluctant to admit that the South African variant is circulating in Kenya. Only recently did the acting director-general of Health, Dr Patrick Amoth, admit it.
Third, the way Kenya manages its borders and international visitors is wanting. Once one presents a Covid-negative test result on entry, there is no monitoring.
The UK, on the other hand, has an elaborate tracking system where, among others, all travellers purchase a Covid test kit ahead of entry into the country and must take two mandatory tests on the second and eighth day.
Kenya’s general management of the coronavirus pandemic leaves a lot to be desired. For Nairobi to throw a tantrum at the UK for taking precautions to protect its citizens is to bury its head in the sand.