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South Africa Covid variant: Health Ministry calls for enhanced surveillance

Health & Science

Acting Director-General for Health Dr. Patrick Amoth at Afya House, Nairobi. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

The Ministry of Health has appealed for heightened surveillance amid reports of a new coronavirus variant in some countries.

The variant, christened B.1.1.529 has been detected in South Africa, Botswana, and Hong Kong, and is said to be easily transmissible and vaccine-resistant.

Acting Health Director-General Dr Patrick Amoth in a statement Friday, called for increased surveillance and screening at all entry points into the country.

“Enhanced surveillance protocols including quarantine and repeat testing should be applied to all passengers from countries reporting the new variant, and passengers transiting through the same,” Amoth said.

Further, the ministry has advised all national and county health facilities to prepare to handle a surge in Covid-19 cases.

Other directives include: All eligible Kenyans are encouraged to be fully vaccinated. All Points of Entry (POE) must conduct rigorous screening of all arriving passengers from the affected countries, with physical proof of vaccination prior to entry into the country for all inbound travelers. All inbound travelers into Kenya must be in possession of a negative PCR taken 96 hours before arrival into the country.

The United Kingdom has already banned flights from six African countries among them South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini, and Zimbabwe, over fear of the variant spreading in the country.

South African experts say the variant has spread among students in Pretoria, but it is uncertain whether it is more deadly than previous mutations.

Kenya’s Covid cases are currently decreasing by the day. Yesterday, the country posted 46 new infections with a positivity rate of 0.9 per cent.

There are now 254,862 confirmed cases. 

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