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Kenya says border closures not a solution in managing new COVID-19 strain » Capital News



NAIROBI, Kenya Nov30-Kenya has slammed measures taken by various nations against countries that have detected the new COVID-19 Omicron strain, mainly in Southern Africa.

Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau said shutting borders can not be a solution to the war against the virus, and urged better policies, including capacity building.

“We believe that we don’t support each other as a global community by locking up each other. What the world needs now is the building of capacity to deal with the realities of COVID-19. Knee jerk reactions targeting specific Nations is not the answer to a disease that will mutate with time,” Macharia said Monday.

Various European nations have closed borders, in measures targetting Southern African countries and others from the continent where the new strain has been detected.

Kamau said that the time is ripe for the global community to adjust to the new normal of a mutating virus and that locking out certain countries will not support the fight against the pandemic.

“For Covid-19 to end, it will take time and therefore, as a country, we believe we have to adjust to the new normal,” Macharia stated.

Kenya’s Health Ministry has said there are no immediate plans to close borders or resort to extreme containment measures following the discovery of the new virus elsewhere.

“Whether the mutation will work to weaken or strengthen the virus only time will tell. Kenya is ready and willing to work with her partners to find innovative ways of dealing with this new reality,” Kamau said during the diplomatic briefing on the upcoming major conferences which Kenya will play a major role including UNEA5.2, [email protected], Africities, Stockholm+50 and 2nd UN Oceans Conference to be held early 2022.

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The Omicron COVID-19 variant which was detected last week in South Africa has been identified in Europe – two in the UK, two in Germany, one in Belgium and another one in Italy, while a suspected case was found in the Czech Republic.

The United Kingdom and Israel have already banned flights from South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini and Zimbabwe over the fast-spreading variant.

Despite the scenario, Kenya has recommended that UNEA 5.2 which is scheduled for February 8, 2022 to March 2, 2022 and [email protected] which will be held on 3rd  to 4th March will be physical.

“Our current realities in this era of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extra care and vigilance to ensure that delegates are safe, and receive the necessary care in the event of any exposures. To this end I wish to reaffirm that the Government of Kenya has the requisite capacity to support the hosting of the two meetings,” he assured.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry also assured the diplomatic community that a government task force will be formed involving the MOH, Ministry of Interior, Foreign Affairs, and other stakeholders to ensure coordination so as to make the event a success.

“Kenya’s has an acclaimed track record in the successful hosting of international conferences and UNEA 5.2 and [email protected] will be no different. It is our aspiration that UNEA 5.2 and [email protected] will both be held in person, with representation at the level of Head of State. The proposed configuration for the meetings is 1+4,” Kamau said.

Apart from the Africities event the country is set to hold, the rest require a budget of $5 million dollars to ensure efficiency and a successful event. Kenya is currently is facing a shortfall of approximately $4 million.

“I urge all Member States to be receptive and answer to the call for voluntary contributions in cash and in-kind to supplement any identified gaps in the budget,” said Kamau.

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