UAE extends ban on air travellers from Kenya


Kenya Airways planes at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on July 31, 2020. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NMG

United Arab Emirates (UAE) has extended the ban on Kenyan travelling to its territory indefinitely, restricting inbound flights from Nairobi and a host of other African countries.

In a notice, Emirates Airlines announced that it has extended the ban, which was to end on the eve of Christmas, until further notice.

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, but on Wednesday, the Dubai-based carrier said that it has, in turn, extended its flights from Kenya suspension to comply with the directive that was to end on December 24.

“Until further notice, flights to and from Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda are suspended. Passengers who have been in or transited through these countries in the last 14 days will not be allowed to enter or transit through Dubai,” said the notice from the airline.

The move is the latest restriction on global travel by UAE aimed at limiting the spread of Covid-19 in the wake of the new Omicron variant.

The directive comes as a blow to the national carrier Kenya Airways #ticker:KQ, which had seen an increase in bookings on this route occasioned by the ongoing Dubai Expo 2020 exhibition.

Kenya Airways suspended passenger flights to Dubai on Tuesday last week 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.

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 34 percent on Wednesday, 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.

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