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New Covid-19 strain causing travel ripples as Kenya stays mum

Health & Science - By Betty Njeru | December 23rd 2020 at 01:26:42 GMT +0300
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe. [Emmanuel Mochoge, Standard]

The emergence of a new strain of Covid-19 first reported in Britain last week has forced countries to err on the side of caution.

The World Health Organization said on Sunday it was aware of the new variant, but was still studying its characteristics in order to give clear directions.

“We’re in close contact with United Kingdom officials on the new COVID-19 virus variant. They’ll continue to share info and results of their analysis and ongoing studies. We’ll update Member States across the globe and the public as we learn more about the characteristics of this virus variant & any implications,” WHO said.

Countries have since shut their borders to Britain in fear of the new coronavirus strain that is seemingly causing travel ripples.

At the weekend and well into this week, several nations took more stern measures to curb the spread of the new variant. France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Ireland, Belgium and Canada banned flights into the UK.

Closer home, it is spreading fast and wide with South Africa having reported experiencing the new strain as recent as last week, pushing a second wave of Covid-19 infections into an all-time high.

All the while, Kenya, with 94, 768 confirmed cases of the coronavirus is yet to take action, but Government says it will issue a statement on the matter of global flights in 48 hours.

Yesterday, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe acknowledged cognizance of the new variant but said they were still thinking of the steps to take.

“Tunaskia kuna variant mpya…Hatujui inatupeleka namna gani. Hatujui itakuwaje kwa nchi yetu. (We are aware there is a new coronavirus variant. We are thinking on what to do about the flights,” he said at the steps of Jogoo House, Nairobi.

Kagwe admitted that they were yet to take any measures as “various factors are involved in observing global trends” but said that everything is on the table.

France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Ireland, Belgium and Canada banned flights into the UK.

The discovery of the new strain, just months before vaccines are made widely available, has flung more fear as the pandemic claims over 1.7 million people globally.

However, not enough is known about the new strain although early analysis suggests it could be up to 70 per cent more transmissible than the initial Covid-19.?

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