A Kenyan student studying in China is immensely grateful to his professor for forcing him to fly to Kenya earlier than he had planned.
Onjolo Victor, 26, who is enrolled at the Chinese Academy of Science in Wuhan arrived in Kenya just a day before a travel ban was imposed on local travel in Wuhan on January 24.
The Masters student in Plant Molecular and Systematic Science left Wuhan on January 22 after his supervisor Prof. Guang Wang Hu insisted. He had initially planned to travel on January 31 which would have seen him stuck in China for a longer period.
Onjolo was first screened for Coronavirus infection at Wuhan Tianhe International Airport and again before proceeding to Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport where he had a seven-hour layover before taking a connecting flight to Ethiopia.
Upon arriving in Ethiopia, Onjolo was surprised to note that no screening was being done. He then flew to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on January 23. No screening was being conducted.
“When we arrived in Kenya, they inspected our polio certificates but the Chinese nationals were set aside and led away by airport officials while the rest of us were cleared to leave,” said Onjolo.
Onjolo has been in constant communication with his 85 Kenyan friends in Wuhan universities since he landed in Kenya.
“My friends are now confined in their rooms and rely on the school to organize how they will access food because only few shops remain open,” said Onjolo.
According to Onjolo, the students are required to pick two of their own to go buy provisions for them.
“Kenyan students are really complaining because of what they term as a lack of basic needs. Most of them are now forced to rely on noodles because they cannot go out and source for Kenyan cuisine which is less spicy as compared to Chinese food,” added Onjolo.
Although Onjolo’s university is not close to Huibei Market which was ground zero for the deadly Coronavirus that has already claimed over 170 lives, an alert was issued to facilitate precautionary measures.
The alert that was issued one week before Onjolo left Wuhan instructed Wuhan citizens to avoid seafood, wear masks, avoid crowded places and wash hands regularly as a precautionary method.
Onjolo and two of his friends who were able to escape Wuhan before the travel ban have since been instructed to remain in Kenya until official communication is issued to that effect.
Although his friends and family were relieved that he had been screened and cleared to travel, Onjolo still faces stigmatisation from those afraid of contracting the deadly virus from him.
“Some friends actually told me to wait for 14 days to lapse to ensure it is safe to meet and catch up,” said Onjolo.