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Rabat bars some European visitors amid rising Covid infections and vaccine rules come under scrutiny
After over a year of tight travel restrictions by European states on their Africa counterparts, the boot is on the other foot. Morocco has banned incoming and outbound flights between the Britain, Germany and the Netherlands citing rising Covid-19 cases.
Latest figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control show that Morocco's weekly rate of reported cases on 14 October stood at 10.4 per 100,000 people. The current rate in Britain is 445.5 per 100,000 people, with Whitehall's Office of National Statistics suggesting infection levels are driven partly by high rates among schoolchildren.
Over 56% of Morocco's population is fully vaccinated, the highest on the continent. That compares to Britain, where 66.6% have received both doses of the vaccine and about 65.3% 68.3% in Germany and the Netherlands respectively.
Travel restrictions and the issue of which vaccines are recognised are frustrating diplomats. New rules in Britain recognise vaccines administered from 108 countries, exempting from quarantine 'fully vaccinated' travellers who have received the vaccines of Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna or Janssen.
Individuals who have received the same vaccines but from countries not on the approved list are considered 'not fully vaccinated' and forced to quarantine for 10 days on arrival.
African countries in this list include Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, and South Africa. This raises concerns about vaccine equity but could also reinforce vaccine hesitancy within the African continent.
Most EU countries consider people fully vaccinated and allow free travel within the bloc with an EU-digitised Covid certificate if they have had a single dose of a two-dose vaccination.
The UK's red-list measures have prompted the Kenya's foreign ministry to term the measures 'punitive, discriminatory, divisive and exclusive in character'.
Nairobi officials point out that the Oxford-produced Astra Zeneca vaccine trials were approved by the World Health Organization at the Kilifi Research Centre on Kenya's coast.
They called for continued collaboration including Britain's support for Africa's first genomic surveillance programme in identifying variant strains at Kenya Medical Research Institute's Kilifi facility which operates with support from the Wellcome Trust (AC Dispatches, Rich countries offer funds for future vaccine production but do little this year to get the serum to developing economies).
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