Kenya has warned of a “vaccine apartheid” following the UK’s decision to ban travel to the country over a rise in coronavirus cases.

The Government announced on Friday that Kenya, the Philippines, Pakistan, Bangladesh would all be added to the red list – effectively banning entry to the UK for nationals of those countries.

Kenya’s ministry of foreign affairs branded the decision “discriminatory” in a response posted to Twitter, warning there was a risk of a “vaccine apartheid” between nations who are “hoarding” jabs and the rest of the world.

The ministry also said there had been no communication from UK counterparts ahead of the change of rules for travellers made on Friday.

The statement said: “Kenya continues to see, with deep regret, that vaccine producing countries around the world have begun practicing a form of vaccine nationalism, possessiveness and discrimination – coupled with a vaccine hoarding attitude that can only be described as a form of ‘vaccine apartheid’.

“During a global pandemic such as the world is witnessing, it is difficult to imagine what could inform such behaviour by nations.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Transport said on Friday that the decision to add Kenya to the red list came in response to concerns over a number of new variants of Covid-19. 

The restrictions mean travellers who have been in Kenya and other red list countries in the previous ten days will be barred from entering the UK, though British and Irish citizens, as well as those with residence rights in Britain, will be allowed to enter subject to a strict isolation period.

In response to the Government’s move, Kenya introduced its own restrictions on travel from the UK, imposing similar measures to those faced by travellers going the other way.

Kenya recently introduced new lockdown restrictions in five counties due to a third wave of coronavirus.

The country, which is heavily reliant on tourism, began Covid-19 vaccinations on 5 March, with the Government saying it hoped the campaign would mark the beginning of the end of the pandemic.

But three weeks later its president Uhuru Kenyatta described soaring infections and the highest daily death rate since the pandemic began.

Kenya as of Thursday this week had reported 126,170 cases and 2,092 deaths in total. By George Martin, i News