Africa has some of the lowest Covid infection rates in the world, so why is the UK Government snubbing it?
Britain is discriminating against Africa by refusing to set up a travel corridor to the continent despite it having some of the lowest Covid rates in the world, says a new campaign fronted by South African born England cricketer Kevin Pietersen.
Ambassadors and travel industry chiefs say the top UK destinations in Africa have rates well below the UK threshold of 20 cases per 100,000 – and below other European and Asian nations on the UK’s quarantine-free “green” list.
Yet, Britons are barred from travel by the Foreign Office advice – and if they do go, they face a quarantine of 14 days on their return. The countries include Rwanda (which has a seven-day case rate of 0.3 per 100,000 population), Uganda (1.9), Zambia (2.3) Kenya (4.5), Namibia (13.1) and South Africa (19.3).
Mr Pietersen: “With such low covid infections, it seems discriminatory to not have any corridors to African countries from the UK. Health measures are extremely good in countries such as Kenya, Rwanda and South Africa.
“It doesn’t make sense for Africa to be effectively cut off from the UK any more. I urge the UK Government to open up corridors as they would be a lifeline for so many.”
Africa has confounded predictions that there would be ten million deaths on the continent because of living conditions and poor health care. Although its 1.2 billion people make up 17 per cent of the world’s population, the continent accounts for just 3.5 per cent of the reported Covid-19 deaths.
If Kenya had the same fatality rate as Britain, it would have buried 32,000 people, not the 691 reported. One factor for the low rate is the profile of many countries being younger than most other Western nations. Tough actions by Governments have also played a part.
Yamina Karitanyi, Rwanda’s ambassador to the UK, said: “Many African countries, like Rwanda, have done an impressive job keeping case numbers at a low level. Now RwandAir is flying from Heathrow to Kigali, we hope an air corridor can be opened up quickly as we’re a country proud of our record keeping Covid away.”
Jimi Kariuki, Managing Director of Sarova Hotels & Resorts in Kenya, says: “We feel that it is very unfair to slap blanket quarantine requirements on all African countries yet as a continent we have continued to record much lower cases of infection than the UK and Europe.
“Livelihoods are seriously at risk if the tourism sector is not supported by international visitor arrivals as their businesses are highly dependent on a strong and vibrant tourism industry.”
Infection cases in Kenya currently stand at 0.08 per cent of the population. All UK and most EU nationals are exempted from quarantine on arrival provided they present a valid COVID-19 negative result.