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Background: The transmission networks of SARS-CoV-2 in sub-Saharan Africa remain poorly understood. Methods: We undertook phylogenetic analysis of 747 SARS-CoV-2 positive samples collected across six counties in coastal Kenya during the first two waves (March 2020 - February 2021). Viral imports and exports from the region were inferred using ancestral state reconstruction (ASR) approach. Results: The genomes were classified into 35 Pango lineages, six of which accounted for 79% of the sequenced infections: B.1 (49%), B.1.535 (11%), B.1.530 (6%), B.1.549 (4%), B.1.333 (4%) and B.1.1 (4%). Four identified lineages were Kenya specific. In a contemporaneous global subsample, 990 lineages were documented, 261 for Africa and 97 for Eastern Africa. ASR analysis identified >300 virus location transition events during the period, these comprising: 69 viral imports into Coastal Kenya; 93 viral exports from coastal Kenya; and 191 inter-county import/export events. Most international viral imports (58%) and exports (92%) occurred through Mombasa City, a key touristic and commercial Coastal Kenya center; and many occurred prior to June 2020, when stringent local COVID-19 restriction measures were enforced. After this period, local virus transmission dominated, and distinct local phylogenies were seen. Conclusions: Our analysis supports moving control strategies from a focus on international travel to local transmission.

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