Kenya’s verdict on India flights out Wednesday amid deadly Covid-19 wave

Covid India

People arrive at a bus station in New Delhi on April 20, 2021, to leave for their native places as India battles a record-breaking spike in Covid-19 coronavirus infections that has forced the capital into a week-long lockdown. PHOTO | AFP

Kenya will today (Wednesday) issue a verdict on whether it will join dozens of countries that have banned all passenger air travel to and from India as a deadly second wave of infections sweeps across the Asian country.

Director-General for Health Patrick Amoth said on Tuesday that an update on India has been deliberated and a formal announcement on whether to ban inbound passenger flights from the nation will be made today.

A number of countries including Bangladesh, the UK, Oman, France, Hong Kong, Singapore and Canada have either banned travel to and from India or asked their nationals coming from the Asian country to isolate in government-approved hotels.

India has seen soaring infection rates, a rapidly rising death toll and the discovery of a new virus variant.

“A formal announcement on the matter will be communicated tomorrow (today),” said Dr Amoth in a brief phone interview with the Business Daily on Tuesday.

On Monday, the country recorded 352,991 new cases of Covid-19 infections in 24 hours as hospitals turned patients away due to the shortage of oxygen, intensive care beds and ventilators.

Daily deaths from Covid-19 rose by a record 2,812 in 24 hours, pushing the toll to over 195,000.

India is one of Kenya’s main trading partners and in 2019 accounted for the 102,600 arrivals through the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and was the second-largest source of imports at Sh178.8 billion.

A large number of patients from Kenya also travel to India every year for specialised medical treatment, especially cancer care, helping to drive medical tourism in the densely populated country that boasts affordable and easily accessible healthcare.

The rising number of cases in India has resulted in a deepening healthcare crisis that has gripped several states, and the country’s top court has asked the central government for a national plan by Friday on bolstering oxygen, medicine and vaccines supply.

One worrying variant first detected in India, called the “double mutant”, has already been found in several other countries, including the US and Britain.

Allowing the virus to circulate unchecked increases the risk that dangerous new strains will emerge.