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UK’s Kenya travel ban stays amid Uhuru visit

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta held bilateral talks with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in London on January 21, 2020. PHOTO | PSCU

Travellers from Kenya remained banned to the United Kingdom in the latest update that took effect yesterday, coming days after President Uhuru Kenyatta’s visit to Britain.

The UK last week updated countries on England’s “Red List” amid concerns about the spread of new Covid-19 variants that have now been reported in Kenya.

Stakeholders in the tourism industry had hoped that President Kenyatta’s recent the UK and the meeting with his British counterpart Boris Johnson would help in lifting the ban on Kenya.

Several media outlets in the UK had projected that Nairobi would join countries like Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates and India that have been moved to the Amber List.

The UK retained Kenya, whose cases of Covid-19 have been surging for the last two weeks, on the travel ban first placed in April.

The UK has segmented countries into green, amber and red lists, each carrying different degrees of restrictions for arrivals back to the UK.

A British citizen travelling from a Green and Amber List is not required to undergo a mandatory quarantine.

Travellers arriving in the UK from countries on the Red List will be denied entry while returning Britons must submit to 10 days of mandatory quarantine in hotels.

Cases of Covid-19 in Kenya have jumped to above 208,000 with more than 4,000 cases.

The positivity rate climbed sharply by a double-digit in the last week, raising concerns among health officials.

In Kenya, 670,000 people have been fully vaccinated, representing a paltry 1.3 percent but the country has received several vaccine donations including from the UK and has also procured some with a target of inoculating 10 million Kenyans by next Christmas.

The UK travel ban comes amid fears that the highly contagious Covid-19 Delta variant may spark the fourth wave of infections in Kenya over the next two months.

Kenya has relaxed punitive requirements imposed on British citizens, which required them to undergo 14 days of isolation before entering the country.

In the mid-June review, the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority said the British nationals and non-citizens travelling through London are required to self-isolate for only seven days.