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Rwanda, Kenya confirm first cases of Omicron COVID-19 variant



Rwanda and Kenya have confirmed their first cases of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, authorities in both countries said.

This is as the heavily mutated strain continues to spread on the continent where it was first detected.

On Tuesday, Rwanda’s Health Ministry said the small central African country had detected six cases as it pushed for people to get vaccinated.

“All arriving passengers must quarantine for three days at a designated hotel at their own cost,’’ the cabinet of ministers said in a resolution on Tuesday.

The cabinet added that it had suspended nightclub operations and live band entertainment.

In Kenya, Health Minister, Mutahi Kagwe, told a press conference in the coastal city of Mombasa that the country had also detected cases for the first time.

“I can confirm that we have detected the Omicron variant,’’ he said, adding that they had confirmed only three cases so far.

Some 40 per cent of the Rwandan population have received two vaccine doses and it has started issuing booster shots.

It registered 50 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday with a positivity rate of 0.5 per cent.

In Kenya, the vaccination campaign has moved more slowly and the government had announced plans to introduce a vaccine mandate starting this month.

But a court on Tuesday suspended the move.

Authorities last month suspended direct flights to and from southern Africa due to the new variant.


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