Kenya imposed stringent new restrictions in the capital, Nairobi, and in four other counties, fighting a deadly third wave of Covid-19 infections that has placed its fragile health system under devastating pressure.

In a televised address on Friday, President Uhuru Kenyatta said that a tenfold increase in infection rates since January, coupled with a 52 percent increase in hospital admissions this month, called for “drastic measures.”

“Kenya is now squarely in the grip of a third wave of this pandemic,” he said.

Several variants have been identified in Kenya, but some were found among travelers, and there is little data to suggest how prevalent they may be or what role they might be playing in the East African nation’s surge. They include B.1.1.7, the more transmissible and possible more lethal variant first identified in Britain; B.1.351, a variant first found in South Africa that may bypass the protection afforded by current vaccines; and A.23.1, a variant that is now dominant in Kenya’s neighbor Uganda and nearby Rwanda.



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