Editorials

New Covid-19 variant will require travel restrictions

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Coronavirus COVID-19 infection 3D medical illustration. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • According to the director-general of Health Patrick Amoth, Kenya is entering a crucial week in terms of making a decision on whether or not to restrict movement between Nairobi and southern Africa.
  • These developments are understandably challenging for Kenya whose President Uhuru Kenyatta has just had talks with his SA counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa on strengthening the ties between these countries.

Kenya, like most countries across the world, is monitoring the new Covid-19 variant that was detected in South Africa with eyes on taming its speed and spread.

According to the director-general of Health Patrick Amoth, Kenya is entering a crucial week in terms of making a decision on whether or not to restrict movement between Nairobi and southern Africa.

Whatever decision Kenya will take regarding dealing with people travelling from South Africa (SA) and its neighbours, health and safety should be the overriding factor.

For health, everything else, from trade, education and other interactions goes to the back burner.

These developments are understandably challenging for Kenya whose President Uhuru Kenyatta has just had talks with his SA counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa on strengthening the ties between these countries.

Rebuilding ties between Kenya and SA is a key milestone for Nairobi, partly with the southern African country’s economic war-chest, covering key areas such as trade, research, medicine and education.

However, should Kenya take the step of temporarily restricting movement between these countries, it will be purely on health considerations in efforts to return to normalcy.

Hopefully, limiting the interactions or putting visitors from southern Africa on some curbs will not strain the Kenya-SA ties that their leaders are working to firm up.

Already a number of countries across the world have issued new quarantine and isolation demands for people travelling from South Africa and neighbours Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and Eswatini.

A painful decision, but the world today knows what it means to be hit by the virus and the extent to which countries, regions and the world go to try taming the pandemic that has brought economies to their knees and killed millions of people.

Immediately South Africa reported detecting the B.1.1.529 strain whose mutations are at least 10, the World Health Organisation said it was “closely monitoring” the variant.

Curbs should be encouraged at a time the post-pandemic recovery was gaining pace across the globe seen in the worst-hit sectors like travel and hospitality.