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Covid-19 protocols to be observed during UNEA 5.2, UNEP@50 events

All delegates attending the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA 5.2) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)@50) shall on a daily basis, be supplied with a Covid-19 self-administered rapid antigen testing kit to ensure compliance protocols are adhered to, throughout the period of engagement.

This is as per best practice compliance and in accordance with World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines as concerns mass gatherings of international nature.

Rapid Antigen-based Tests have been flaunted as having the potential to significantly reduce the spread of Covid-19.

Ministry of Health Representative, Dr Jackson Omondi, said that the Government of Kenya does not, however, consider the Rapid Antigen Test as diagnosis for Covid-19 and therefore prefers a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) that provides more accurate results, if a participant tests positive.

Further, the UNEP Information Systems, together with Ministry of Health and Ministry of ICT are developing an application to enable self-reporting on a daily basis on every participants’ Covid-19 status to ensure quick detection and attention on any arising cases.

The application shall be available on Apple-store, Play-store and Web version. It requires the registered participants to use the self-testing kit and report their status before entering the conference facility.

At the same time, delegates are expected to produce on arrival, certificates of Covid-19 vaccination, certified from their mother countries. The UNEP has 193 Member States and each is expected to send representatives.

Omondi, added that participants should secure travel medical insurance to cover for the duration they will be in the country, laying emphasis on the UNEA 5.2 and UNEP@50 meetings taking place at the UNEP Headquarters in Gigiri, Kenya, starting from 28th February to 2nd March, 2022.

“In case one tests positive, the insurance is expected to cover the cost of treatment and medical attention received,” said Omondi during a virtual Inter-Ministerial Planning meeting today, co-hosted by Ministry of Environment and Forestry and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Inter-Ministerial Committee has membership comprising UNEP officials and representatives from various ministries as the government has adopted an all-government-approach in planning for the events.

On quarantine and isolation measures to be undertaken, Dr Michelle Sagala, from the Health Ministry, submitted that Kenya has considered to have a period of five days isolation for delegates who had been sick ahead of the events and 10 days quarantine for those who test positive on arrival, to prevent exposure and spread.

“Rapid Antigen Testing should take 15 – 20 minutes to produce results. Participants testing positive, will then be advised where to quarantine or seek hospitalization while an active contact tracing shall be undertaken to prevent any attendant spread the virus,” explained Sagala.

At another Working group’s virtual meeting on Covid for UNEA 5.2, yesterday, UNEP Chief of Staff, Mr Rafael Peralta, informed members that UNEP’s Joint Medical Services (JMS) in collaboration with WHO and Ministry of Health, Kenya, are finalizing on Covid-19 protocol guidelines that shall be circulated to participating countries in the coming week, as countries warm up for preceding preparatory engagements.

Whereas UNEP has committed to offer additional Daily Subsistence Allowance to the organization’s Covid-19 positive sponsored participants, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been asked to advise on the government’s position whether or not, it will support participants (sponsored and/or not sponsored) to have access to a PCR test should they test positive on a rapid test.

Further, Governance Affairs Office-UNEP, will identify a location for PCR testing inside the UN Complex in coordination with JMS and United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON) for PCR testing prior to departure from Kenya.

The Ministry of Health in liaison with Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) are also in the process of certifying that designated hotels where delegates will be accommodated, have been inspected and are adhering to Covid-19 protocols.

The commemoration of the 50th Anniversary since the creation of UNEP, aims at strengthening UNEP by positioning the organization at the forefront of a revamped global multilateral environmental system.

This commemoration is a global collective action to address three interdependent planetary crises of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.

“These celebrations are an opportunity for Kenya to put its best foot forward by showing the world that we have what it takes to host UNEP for fifty years in matters conservation, preservation and protection of the environment and that the country has been consistent in upholding the commitments of environmental global agenda,” Director, Multi-Lateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs), Mr Cyrus Mageria said.

By Nancy JN Mathu


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