Kenya confirms 1st omicron cases amid surge in COVID-19 infections
Infections with novel variant detected among travelers, says health minister
Kenya’s health minister on Wednesday announced that the East African country had recorded its first cases of the omicron coronavirus variant.
Speaking at a meeting with the Kenya Council of Governors in the southeastern coastal city of Mombasa, Mutahi Kagwe said three cases of omicron variant were detected among travelers, without giving any details.
“We are carrying out sequencing to see its spread. We expect it to become the dominant variant globally,” Kagwe said while calling on all Kenyans to get vaccinated, saying, “those who get vaccinated are not getting severe sickness.”
Kenya has been recording a surge in COVID-19 cases recently after the announcement by South Africa of the omicron variant last month, triggering fears of a looming lockdown.
Epidemiologists, Kagwe said, advised that it is not necessary to enforce a lockdown now to curb the spread of the new variant.
Kenya’s Health Ministry said that 95% of those who contracted COVID-19 and were hospitalized had not been vaccinated prior to catching the virus.
As of Tuesday, more than 256,800 people in Kenya have tested positive for the coronavirus and some 5,350 have died of the disease.
Kenya’s vaccination campaign began in March, prioritizing health workers, teachers, security personnel, and people aged over 58.
With 27 million people aiming to be immunized, just 6.1% of the 53.7 million population have been fully vaccinated so far.
A Kenyan court on Tuesday blocked a government move requiring proof of coronavirus vaccination to access certain venues, facilities, and public transportation.
Critics say the decision would have denied millions access to key services and venues, while the East African nation struggles to get jabs into arms amid a shortage of vaccines.