After Dubai Ban, US Limits Travel To Kenya On Covid

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Economy

After Dubai Ban, US Limits Travel To Kenya On Covid


Travellers

A Kenya Airways ground crew registers passengers at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi on August 1, 2020. PHOTO | AFP

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Summary

  • In its first travel advisory this year, the US reviewed Kenya last week, dealing another blow to the recovering tourism sector.
  • Kenya had been classified at level one in October, which is a much more secure classification that only requires citizens to follow standard procedures, such as donning face masks.
  • The Tier Three category typically applies to destinations that have had between 100 and 500 cases per 100,000 residents in the last 28 days.

The United States has downgraded Kenya to travel advisory level three, a category that requires U.S. citizens to avoid all non-essential travel to the country or reconsider planned travel in the wake of an increase in Covid-19 infections.

In its first travel advisory this year, the US reviewed Kenya last week, dealing another blow to the recovering tourism sector.

Kenya had been classified at level one in October, which is a much more secure classification that only requires citizens to follow standard procedures, such as donning face masks.

The Tier Three category typically applies to destinations that have had between 100 and 500 cases per 100,000 residents in the last 28 days.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Level Three Travel Health Advisory for Kenya due to covid-19, indicating a high level of covid-19 in the country, “states the latest notice from the US embassy in Nairobi. .

The downgrade comes at a time when the United Arab Emirates has banned flights from Kenya to Dubai indefinitely following high cases of Covid-19 in the country amid claims of false certificates issued by Nairobi authorities.

The aviation regulator said last week that Dubai banned all inbound and transit passenger flights from Kenya because travelers from Nairobi tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving in the Middle Eastern nation, despite having negative results.

Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) Director General Gilbert Kibe said last week that the scheme involved a network of corrupt Health Ministry officials who colluded with travelers to issue false Covid-19 PCR results. to help travel to Dubai.

The tourism and hospitality industry was one of the fastest growing sectors that boosted Kenya’s economic growth in the third quarter to 9.9 percent following the lifting of lockdown measures.

Kenya is counting on the recovery of the tourism sector to halt the labor haemorrhage in the sector and reverse the slowdown that forced some large hotels to close for good.

Kenya’s rate of coronavirus infections surpassed the World Health Organization (WHO) high-risk limit of five percent for the first time in December since the government lifted the national curfew on October 20 and the rate Infection increased daily until a few days ago when the positivity rate began to decline again.

Data from the Health Ministry shows that the positivity rate, the proportion of tests that tested positive, rose to more than 30 percent in December from a low of 0.5 percent in September, amid the emergence of the variant. Omicron.

The WHO labels a country as high risk if the positivity rate exceeds five percent and advises countries to consider imposing restrictive measures, such as lockdowns, if it remains above the limit for at least 14 days.

The notice comes just weeks after it emerged that Kenyan passport holders are banned from visiting 40 countries around the world due to the high level of Covid-19.

The Henley Passport Index, which tracks the world’s most travel-friendly passports since 2006, made the revelations in its final 2021 report, showing how countries are still interested in protecting their citizens from new variants of the coronavirus.

The restrictions appear intended to harm the vital tourism sector given that the US and UK account for more than 20 percent of travel to Kenya.

In the semester through June, visitors to Kenya from the US and UK totaled 65,442, representing 21.4 percent of arrivals.

The US travel restrictions come amid fears that the highly contagious variant of Covid-19 Omicron could trigger the fourth wave of infections in Kenya.

However, in recent days, the positivity rate has dropped and on Sunday it stood at 19 percent.

Traditionally, Kenya’s peak tourist season begins in mid-July and runs through March of the following year and is characterized by international arrivals primarily from the US, UK, Germany, Italy, and France.

The American classification of Kenya as a high-risk Covid-19 could force many American travelers to cancel or postpone their trips indefinitely.

In June, the US CDC issued a Level 2 Travel Health Advisory for Kenya due to Covid-19, indicating a moderate level of coronavirus in the country, while in August it was downgraded to level three thereafter. of an increase in number.

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