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Health Minister visits 33 UK quarantined students

By | Jul 2nd 2009 | 2 min read

By Kepher Otieno

Public Health Minister Beth Mugo visited the hotel in Kisumu where 33 students from the UK are quarantined over Swine Flu.

Ms Mugo assured the country the disease was under control.

And the students had a taste of sunshine on Tuesday evening when they briefly came out on the hotel’s third floor balcony.

One of the students told a friend in Kisumu town they were well.

The student said in a short text message to a friend who later spoke to The Standard: "We have plenty of food, hotel staff still here. I tested negative but still have to stay. The minister came, very friendly."

They waved to the residents, but disappeared into their ‘prison’ after a few minutes.

Mugo, who was accompanied by her PS Mark Bor and the head of Disease Control and Surveillance Charles Musyoka, donned masks and had a chat with the students at the hotel.

But even as the minister spoke to the students, the seriousness of the quarantine was put to question after journalists saw a foreign guest taking a soda at the hotel’s second floor.

The hotel management declined to divulge the identity of the lone guest and why he was sipping a soda at the hotel when it was under quarantine.

Out of bounds

Journalists also saw a lone waiter on the hotel’s second floor.

But the Nyanza Provincial Director of Pubic Health and Sanitation, Jackson Kioko allayed fears about the lone guest in the hotel saying: "There is no cause for alarm. The students are quarantined on the third floor and are not allowed to mix with other people."

Mugo also met the hotel management and workers and assured them that they were safe from the flu.

There was drama outside the hotel when a crowd quickly formed after learning of the minister’s presence.

Mugo and her team later visited Alendu Primary School where the 33 students had been doing community work before they were quarantined.

She said all those who came into close contact with the students would be screened and their status established.

She assured residents that those found to have contracted the flu would be treated free of charge.

Mugo defended the Government against claims it was not doing much to stop the spread of the disease.

"The Government is fully prepared to deal with this disease. In any case, Kenya is not the only country where it has been discovered," said Mugo.

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