Covid-19: US raises travel alert levels for Kenya, other East African states

Sunday August 9 2020

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An image of the ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. PHOTO | FILE  

DAILY NATION
By DAILY NATION
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The US State Department on Friday raised the levels of its advisories on travel to Kenya and other East African countries partly due to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.

The new alerts urge prospective visitors to the region to “reconsider travel” to Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda.

That is the third-highest of four levels of travel advisories by the State Department. Level 4 “Do Not Travel” alerts are issued for Somalia and South Sudan.

The heightened alerts for East African nations are among scores of country-specific advisories that replace the worldwide travel warning the US issued on March 19, soon after the coronavirus reached the pandemic stage.

Most countries are assigned to Level 3 of the rankings. Only Taiwan and the China-controlled region of Macao are listed as Level 1 – where travellers are told to exercise “normal precautions”.

On Kenya, the State Department notes, in regard to Covid-19, that the government “has lifted stay-at-home orders and resumed some transportation options and business operations”. Travellers are urged to “exercise increased caution in Kenya due to crime, terrorism, health issues and kidnapping.”

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They are specifically warned not to travel to Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, Tana River and Lamu counties, as well as the northern part of Malindi, due to threats of terrorism and violent crime. Eastleigh and Kibera districts in Nairobi are also listed as no-go areas.

Despite Rwanda’s reported success in limiting the coronavirus spread, the State Department advises that travel to the country be reconsidered.

“Rwanda has resumed most transportation options, (including airport operations and re-opening of borders) and business operations (including daycares and schools),” the new notice states.

Travel to Tanzania should also be reconsidered because of coronavirus concerns, the State Department suggests.

“Tanzania has lifted stay-at-home orders, and resumed some transportation options and businesses operations.”

It also directs prospective travellers to the Covid-19 section of the website of the US embassy in Tanzania, where they are warned that “the risk of contracting Covid-19 through community transmission remains elevated.”

The Tanzania government “has not released aggregate numbers on Covid-19 cases or deaths since April 29,” the embassy says. Visitors are also told that “violent crime, such as assault, sexual assault, robberies, mugging and carjacking, is common.”

Uganda is also in the Level 3 category.

“Uganda has resumed most internal transportation options, but the international airport and borders remain, with some exceptions, closed to regular travel.”

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