NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 28-Kenya announced Wednesday the suspension of flights to and from India following a surge in COVID-19 infections and deaths.
India has been reporting over 300,000 COVID cases daily, with over 2,000 deaths in the recent weeks, a situation that has overwhelmed the country’s health care system and crematoriums.
“Given the dire events in India, we resolved to suspend all passenger flights in and out of the country for a period of 14 days. This suspension is to take effect from midnight this coming Saturday,” said Mutahi Kagwe, Health Cabinet Secretary after a meeting with the National Emergency Response Committee (NERC).
Kagwe said passengers arriving from India in the next 72 hours will have to undertake mandatory testing, and will undergo a 14-days mandatory quarantine at their own cost.
“All passengers arriving from India within these 72 hours shall be subjected to rapid antigen testing upon arrival at our ports of entry and shall be required to strictly observe a 14-day quarantine period that will be closely monitored by our health officials,” he said.
Cargo flights are now affected.
Kenya announced the flight ban on the day India’s coronavirus death toll passed 200,000 with more than 3,000 fatalities reported in 24 hours for the first time, official data showed.
A total of 201,187 people have now died, 3,293 of them in the past day, according to health ministry data, although many experts suspect that the true toll is higher.
India has now reported 18 million infections, an increase of 360,000 in 24 hours, which is a new world record. This month alone the country has added almost six million new cases.
The explosion in cases, blamed in part on a new virus variant as well as mass political and religious events, has overwhelmed hospitals with dire shortages of beds, drugs and oxygen.
The crisis is particularly severe in New Delhi, with people dying outside packed hospitals where three people are often forced to share beds. Clinics have been running out of oxygen.
India has so far administered 150 million vaccine shots and from Saturday the programme will be expanded to include all adults, meaning 600 million more people will be eligible.
However, many states are warning that they have insufficient vaccine stocks and experts are calling on the government to prioritise vulnerable groups and badly hit areas.