The Kenyan and British governments say they are working on a system to recognise Covid vaccine certificates issued in both countries, to facilitate travel between them.
This comes after the UK changed its controversial international travel traffic light system to make it easier for fully vaccinated passengers to travel to England.
But despite being removed from the UK’s red list, Kenyans intending to travel there will still have to take a test three days before travelling, quarantine for 10 days on arrival, as well as pay for Covid tests while in isolation.
Under the UK’s new rules effective from 4 October, fully vaccinated people from countries that are not on the red list will be exempt from the compulsory quarantine.
But Tuesday’s joint statement by the British High Commission and Kenya’s health ministry just shows how complicated the matter still is and may not be resolved soon.
“Establishing a system to mutually recognise each other’s vaccine certificates for a vaccine passport program for travel takes time particularly in an unprecedented pandemic,” the statement says.
Health experts in Kenya say the recent announcement from the UK will have an impact in the uptake of Covid-19 vaccines in the country.
People from other African countries that remain in the UK red list have criticised the new travel rules saying it’s discriminatory. Wales said it would follow England in removing Turkey, Pakistan, the Maldives, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Oman, Bangladesh and Kenya from the red list. It would “carefully consider” the proposed changes on testing but said they are “not without risk”.
Meanwhile, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana will remain on the United Kingdom’s (UK) red list, leaving in place restrictions for travel between these countries and United Kingdom.
Travel between the UK and South Africa has been severely restricted over the past nine months. In December, the UK halted travellers from South Africa for fear of the newly discovered Beta variant. In May, the UK
implemented its traffic light travel system which categorised countries into three lists – red, green, or amber – according to their respective Covid-19 risk profiles.
South Africa has been on the red list since its inception.
In addition to the latest update on red, amber, and green list countries, the UK is expected to overhaul its traffic light system in early October.
Green and amber list countries are likely to be merged into a single category, consolidating the ease of international movement for all fully vaccinated traveller
The World Health Organisation has been against vaccine passports for international travel due to un-equitable availability of Covid-19 vaccines globally.
By Eric Knight