Kenya will not join a host of countries imposing stringent Covid-19 travel restrictions on passengers from China even as the Asian nation continues to battle a new surge in infections.
Health Cabinet secretary Susan Nakhumicha told the Business Daily that Kenya did not have any plans to issue new travel measures on passengers travelling between the two nations saying the move will hurt the economy.
Several countries, including the US, India, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Australia and the Philippines, have imposed restrictions on arrivals from China.
Nations such as the UK, France, Spain and Italy require travellers from China to provide a negative Covid-19 test result before boarding flights.
France, for instance, on Monday, said tests would have to be done less than 48 hours before departure and be on direct flights from China and flights with stopovers, with random tests carried out on passengers on arrival.
“In my view, I don’t think it’s going to be necessary for us to impose any travel restrictions on travellers from China. Some of those restrictions we impose have an economic impact,” Ms Nakhumicha told the Business Daily.
“Remember even economically we are just recovering, so I will not rush to impose any restrictions but my call to Kenyans is that they should continue with vaccinations for those who have not been vaccinated.”
China has seen soaring infection rates after the country rolled back its stringent zero-Covid policy.
Nations around the world are worried that new variants could emerge from China’s continuing outbreak and that Beijing may not inform the rest of the world on time.
There have been no reports of new variants yet, but there is widespread concern over the lack of information and data from China.
An average of 4,581 Covid cases per day were reported in China in the last week. Cases have increased by 34 per cent from the average two weeks ago, official government data shows.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, 1,909,905 cases have been reported.
At least one in 266,638 residents have died from the coronavirus with a total of 5,242 deaths reported.
China is one of Kenya’s main trading partners and in 2019 accounted for two million arrivals through Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
Kenya’s import bill to China was 21.89 per cent year-on-year to nearly Sh2.10 trillion in the first 10 months of 2022, a higher rise than 19.69 per cent in earnings from exports to Sh728.2 billion, latest official data collated by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics shows.
Kenya has captured 342,507 Covid-19 cases since March 2020 and 5,688 deaths.
Data from the Ministry of Health shows that the positivity rate — the proportion of positive tests — has been on a steady decline from an all-time high of 37.6 per cent on December 27, 2021, to 9.5 per cent on November 29, 2022.