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Flights grounded as virus declared global emergency

Health & Science - By Mercy Adhiambo | February 1st 2020 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300

As the World Health Organisation declared coronavirus a public health emergency last Thursday, Kenya, has suspended flights and placed restrictions on travelling to China following the outbreak.

The global agency came up with the decision after a consultative emergency meeting on Thursday to issue guidelines on how to manage the rapidly spreading disease.

“The main reason for this declaration is not what is happening in China but what is happening in other countries,” said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Their concern was that the disease could spread to countries with weaker health systems.

Coronavirus has so far claimed 213 lives and left almost 10,000 people from different parts of the world infected. Sixty two countries, including Kenya are affected.

Covid 19 Time Series

 

“We have temporarily suspended all flights to and from Guangzhou starting Friday January 31 2020, until further notice,” Kenya Airways said in a statement.

They said they are working closely with the ministries of Health and Foreign Affairs and will provide updates as the situation develops. Vietnam’s VietJet and Singapore Airlines said they would suspend flights or reduce capacity on routes to mainland China. Chinese carrier Shanghai Airlines said it would suspend flights to Hungary from Chengdu and Xi’an. RwandAir also suspended flights.

At the same time, the Chinese Embassy in Kenya said they are continuously monitoring the entry of Chinese nationals into the country.

“We have notified all Chinese nationals to take strict prevention and survillence methods. So far, there is no suspected case of novel coronavirus among Chinese nationals in Kenya,” the embassy said in a statement.

There was panic when a passenger who had travelled from Guangzhou to Nairobi on Tuesday was put under quarantine when it was suspected that he had the deadly virus.

The Ministry of Health however confirmed that the samples came back negative.

“I can confirm that results on the suspected coronavirus case sent to South Africa for validation are negative,” said outgoing Health Minister Sicily Kariuki.

Nearest facility

She said anyone who has recently travelled to China and was experiencing symptoms of respiratory illnesses such as fever, coughing, difficulty breathing and sneezing, should go to the nearest health facility for assessment and prompt management.

Facebook Inc, the world’s biggest social media network said they will be taking down misinformation about China’s fast-spreading coronavirus. They said they will be removing content that has false claims or conspiracy theories that have been flagged by leading health organisations and health authorities.

Since the declaration of the disease as an emergency, many countries now require people who have travelled from China to undergo body temperature checks and submit medical declaration forms. Other countries such as France and the United Kingdom have started evacuating their citizens from China. Those who have been evacuated will be quarantined for 14 days as their condition is monitored. “In quarantine, they will be able to access specialist medical staff, who will closely monitor their condition and will be regularly assessed for symptoms as a precaution. They will also have “fully furnished rooms, food, Wifi, toys and games for children, and laundry facilities” provided free of charge by the government,” said a statement by Britain.

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