COVID-19: Kenya warns of coronavirus 'vaccine apartheid' after UK travel ban
Kenya has hit out at the UK government for adding the country to England’s coronavirus travel “red list”.
In a strongly-worded statement posted to Twitter, Kenya‘s ministry of foreign affairs used the move to warn of a “vaccine apartheid” between nations who produce and are “hoarding” jabs, and the rest of the world. It comes after the UK announced the new travel measures taking effect from 4am on Friday 9 April, along with restrictions for Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Philippines. The Kenyan ministry’s statement said that such strategies by “vaccine producing countries” with “vaccine hoarding attitudes” would make it “near impossible for the world to win the war against the pandemic”.
When it announced the additions to the red list this week, the Department for Transport said it was in response to concerns about new variants of COVID-19. But Kenya said the policy was “discriminatory”, and accused the UK of hoarding vaccines “in bigger quantities than it currently has use for”. The UK has ordered more than 400 million coronavirus vaccine doses, for a population of around 67 million people, however has warned of potential supply problems to come in April.
The UK is a contributor to the worldwide COVAX scheme, aimed at delivering jabs to lower-income countries, but Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said earlier this week that the UK had “no surpluses” at the moment. Kenya, which has a population of 53 million, has received more than a million Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines through COVAX already. The Kenyan statement said there had been no communication from UK counterparts ahead of the change of rules for travellers made on Friday.
Being on the “red list” means international visitors who have departed from or transited through those nations in the previous 10 days will be barred from entering. British and Irish citizens and those with residence rights in the UK will be allowed to enter, but will have to arrive at a designated port and then pay to stay in a government-approved quarantine hotel for 10 days. Once in quarantine, they will have to take a COVID test on the second and eighth days of their self-isolation.
In response, Kenya has instituted its own restrictions on travel from the UK. These include anyone arriving from the UK having to quarantine in a “government designated facility” for 14 days, at their own expense. Two PCR tests will have to be taken during this period, also at the traveller’s expense.
The exception to these rules include Kenyan citizens who live in the UK, and also cargo flights. In response to the measures announced by Kenya, the UK’s high commission in the country announced they would be updating their travel advice for the country. In another part of the statement from the Kenyan government, it said: “The decision is particularly disturbing in light of the fact that the United Kingdom and Kenya enjoy a strong and long-lasting relationship….”
Hundreds of British troops train in the country every year, and last month, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace opened a GBP70m military training facility for the British Army Training Unit Kenya (BATUK). Mr Wallace said at the time: “Kenya is one of our leading defence partners in East Africa and this new facility will cement our partnership for decades to come, supporting stability and security in the region.” Kenya recently introduced new lockdown restrictions in five counties due to a third wave of coronavirus.
The statement said: “The third wave that Kenya is currently managing with stringent COVID-19 protocols and restrictions is an example of the sacrifice that Kenyans are willing to make to ensure that this disease does not spread in Kenya or anywhere else in the world for that matter.”
(C) Sky News 2021
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