Transport

Dubai extends Kenya flights ban to Christmas eve

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Kenya Airways planes at the JKIA in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Dubai has extended the ban for all inbound and transit passenger flights from Kenya till December 24 amid a surge in Covid-19 cases in the country.

The Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA) had announced a 48-hour suspension on all flights from Kenya to the Middle East nation on December 20.

On Wednesday, the Dubai-based Emirates Airlines announced that it has, in turn, extended its flights from Kenya suspension to comply with the directive.

“As per the directive from Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA), all air transport services with inbound and transit passenger movements to the emirate of Dubai from any point in Kenya are temporarily suspended up to and including December 24,” the airline posted on its website.

“Customers will not be accepted for travel on Emirates flights at Nairobi during this time. Outbound passenger operations from Dubai to Nairobi remain unaffected,” it added.

The ban does not affect cargo freights as well.

Kenya Airways also suspended passenger flights to Dubai on Tuesday in line with the directive.

The national carrier said it would refund passengers who had booked tickets for travel within the suspension period. The travellers will also be allowed to rebook when flights resume.

The suspension came days after Dubai introduced new travel requirements for direct flights from Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia.

Under the new measures, travellers from Africa were required to provide a PCR test result conducted at the airport six hours before departure for Dubai.

In addition, travellers were to self-quarantine until they received a negative Covid-19 test certificate issued within 48 hours of arrival in Dubai.

The new rules, which apply to both passengers terminating their journey and those transiting through Dubai, are expected to affect Africans, most of whom prefer Dubai as a transit point, due to its interconnectivity and the lower fares charged by its national carrier, Emirates Airlines.

Russia ban

Meanwhile, Moscow also announced an entry ban for travellers from Kenya starting December 19, local media reported.

Russia anti-coronavirus crisis centre said it was restricting the “entry to Russian territory of foreign citizens residing on Kenyan territory and foreign citizens staying on this territory during the past 14 days beginning at 00 hours 00 minutes Moscow time on December 19, 2021.”

Kenya has seen coronavirus resurgence with a rapidly rising caseload since confirmation of the highly infectious Omicron variant last week.

The positivity rate — the ratio of positive tests — rose to 29.6 percent on Monday before receding to 27.8 percent on Tuesday, which is among the highest levels since Kenya recorded the first coronavirus case on March 12 last year.

The surge in global coronavirus infections has seen many countries tighten restrictions to curb the spread of the Omicron variant.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) labels a country to be a high risk if the positivity rate rises above five percent and advises countries to consider restrictions if it remains above the limit for at least 14 days.

Kenya has fully vaccinated 13.4 percent of its adult population, with 9.05 million receiving at least one dose.

Countries worldwide are grappling to control the rapid spread of the new Covid-19 variant Omicron, which was first detected in South Africa.

- Additional reporting by Bonface Otieno.