COVID-19

Kagwe rules out lockdown as Kenya detects Omicron variant

Kagwe said the new variant is spreading at an alarming rate

In Summary
  • Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe confirmed that the cases were detected among travelers at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

  • One South African and two Kenyans tested positive for the variant, said Kagwe during a press conference in Mombasa on Wednesday.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe during a press conference in Mombasa on Wednesday.
OMICRON VARIANT Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe during a press conference in Mombasa on Wednesday.
Image: JOHN CHESOLI

Kenya has detected three cases of the new Omicron variant of Covid-19, which was first detected in South Africa last month.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe confirmed that the cases were detected among travelers at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

One South African and two Kenyans tested positive for the variant, said Kagwe during a press conference in Mombasa on Wednesday.

Speaking on the sidelines of a consultative meeting with the Council of Governors on addressing health policy and legislative barriers, Kagwe said Kenyans do not need to panic.

“As you all know that we started the process of ensuring that persons arriving in Kenya, particularly from South African countries, get tested at the airports. We have been sequencing some of the samples that we have collected and I can confirm that we have actually detected the Omicron variant among the travelers,” said Kagwe.

He said the three have already been quarantined and the process of sequencing more samples is ongoing to confirm the level of infection in Kenya.

“So far, we have a lot of other samples that we are sequencing. In the next two days, I will be able to confirm the spread or otherwise of Omicron within the country,” stated Kagwe.

The Health CS said the ministry will send all those confirmed to be positive in to quarantine.

However, despite the detection of the new variant, which is spreading at an alarming rate, Kagwe ruled out any lockdowns any time soon as a measure to stop the spread.

He said the ministry is looking at several factors; including fatality rate, hospitalisation and severity of the new variant before it imposes any lockdown, curfew or any restrictions.

“So far, we are not announcing curfew or any lockdowns. We have seen some countries that have gone into emergency lockdowns, but for us we are still observing,” said Kangwe.

Meanwhile, the Health Cabinet Secretary urged Kenyans to go for the Covid-19 vaccination, saying that it will help boost their immune system.

He asked county governments to roll out a vaccination drive to ensure that every Kenyan gets the jab.

However, he clarified the ministry is not forcing any person to be vaccinated.

“For the benefit of the wider community, we are not going to mandate anyone to be vaccinated. However, there are mitigation measures need to be followed,” he said

Kagwe said worldwide, people are forced to show proof of vaccination before boarding a plane, train or attending a social event.

“Whether we like it or do not like it, we are going to do what other countries are doing. We can only avoid lockdown and curfews if we are all vaccinated,” he said.

 

Edited by CM