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A US National Guard soldier pushes a cart with syringes loaded with the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination center in Londonderry, New Hampshire

Corona Virus

Kenya hits back at UK travel ban, countries practicing vaccines apartheid

NAIROBI, Kenya, April 3 Kenya has hit back at the UK, a day after London imposed travel restrictions for anyone from Nairobi over COVID-19 despite having the worst strain that is fast spreading across the world.

On Saturday, Kenya said anyone arriving from the UK or transiting through airports there will have to undergo mandatory 14-days quarantine in government-designated centres at their own cost, with two tests.

“While in isolation, they will be subject to take two PCR COVID-19 tests. on Day 2 amd day 8 of their quarantine, at their own cost,” a statement from the ministry of Foreign Affairs stated.

Kenya said it was surprised at the decision by the UK to add it on the red list, despite eforts in place to manage COVID-19.

“Kenya’s performance in managing, combating and containing the spread of COVID-19 has been singled out and lauded by many partners, including the World Health Organization (WHO) as being exemplary and worthy of recognition and support. The third wave that Kenya is currently managing with stringent COVID-19 protocols and restrictions is an example of the sacrifice that Kenyans are willing to make to ensure that this disease does not spread in Kenya or anywhere else in the world for that matter. Kenya remains a responsible actor, nationally, regionally and globally,” the statement said.

And it blasted vaccine-producing nations, saying they were hoarding the precious commodity.

“Kenya continues to see, with deep regret, that vaccine producing countries around the world have begun practising a form of vaccine nationalism, possessiveness and discrimination, coupled with a vaccine hoarding attitude that can only be described as a form of “vaccine
apartheid,” it said.

It specifically accused the UK of refusing to share its vaccines, despite having more quantities, in an escalating diplomatic row.

“Kenya remains of the opinion that in solidarity and in seeking to build back better from this pandemic, the Government of the United Kingdom would have offered support to Kenya through the provision of vaccines. This is further to Kenya’s request that the United Kingdom shares vaccines which Kenya is aware that the United Kingdom has in bigger quantities than it currently has use for,” the MFA statement said.

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Kenya is administering the Astrazeneca vaccine acquired through the COVAX global initiative with an initial 1.02 doses targeting frontline workers with more vaccines expected next month.

On Friday, the Kenya announced a ban on the importation of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccineand any other vaccines likely to overshadow the Astrazeneca.

Saturday’s action by by Kenya against the UK followed an announcement by London Friday that it would add four countries to its so-called red list banning incoming travel to England from next week, citing coronavirus “variants of concern”.

The Department for Transport said the ban on visitors from Kenya, Bangladesh, the Philippines and Pakistan would enter force at 0300 GMT on April 9.

This will include anyone who left the countries or transited though them in the previous 10 days.

UK and Irish nationals and those with UK residence rights travelling from those countries will have to quarantine in hotels for 10 days.

The department said the ban was over new data showing increased risks of importing coronavirus “variants of concern”.

The new rules take the total number of red-listed countries to 39.

The government said the list expansion came at a “critical time for the vaccine programme”.

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The UK has given more than 31 million people, or more than 45 percent of the population, a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

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