Kenya to seek proof of Covid vaccination

·2-min read
Only 2.4 million people, or less than nine percent of Kenya's adult population, have been vaccinated, according to official figures (AFP/Simon MAINA)

Kenyans will have to prove they are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 to access government services and public places such as national parks, bars and restaurants under new health regulations.

The move comes despite Kenya recording a declining number of coronavirus infections in recent weeks, but against a backdrop of heightened restrictions in some European countries that are battling soaring cases.

Kenya will require people to show vaccination certificates from December 21 and is planning a 10-day mass inoculation campaign from November 26, Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe said in a statement issued late Sunday.

Visitors from Europe will also have to provide proof of full vaccination, he added.

Kenya, Kagwe said, has seen a "marked decrease" in the number of severe cases and deaths, with a positivity rate over the last 14 days ranging from 0.8 percent to 2.6 percent.

Since the start of the pandemic, the East African powerhouse has recorded a total of 254,629 cases and 5,325 deaths.

- 'Not yet time to celebrate' -

"I have no doubt that, looking at these statistics, it's very easy to become complacent and fail to appreciate the magnitude of the problem that we still face with the pandemic," Kagwe said.

"The current decline in the number of new infections may be attributed to a build-up of immunity both through natural exposure to the disease and the ongoing vaccination exercise. Nonetheless, we know that it's not yet time to celebrate."

Only 2.4 million people -- less than nine percent of Kenya's adult population -- have been vaccinated, according to official figures, compared with a government target of 30 million by the end of next year.

Kagwe voiced concern about the low uptake of Covid shots, particularly among the elderly, and said it had slowed after the lifting of a nationwide night-time curfew last month.

He said Kenya had received a total of 10.7 million vaccine doses and expected to get another eight million, without giving a timeframe.

But rights group Amnesty International urged the government to abandon such "coercive" measures and instead educate Kenyans about vaccines to counter apathy and misinformation.

It said it was setting "unrealistic" targets for vaccinations, particularly as it had only enough supplies for 15 percent of Kenyans.

Under Kenya's new measures, in-person access to government services including hospitals, education, tax and immigration offices will be limited to those carrying proof of vaccination.

Similar restrictions will be imposed for public places such as national parks and game reserves, hotels, bars and restaurants, while all indoor gatherings will be limited to two-thirds capacity for vaccinated people only.

All public transport workers such as pilots, drivers and "boda boda" motorcycle taxi drivers must also be fully inoculated.


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