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More foreign embassies evacuate their nationals from Nairobi over coronavirus fears

By Cyrus Ombati | April 5th 2020

More foreign embassies in Nairobi continued to evacuate their citizens in fear of coronavirus spread.

On Monday, more than 100 foreigners from Japan and South Korea are scheduled to leave Nairobi for their countries in hired private jets. Sources said the foreigners are among thousands who have left the country and the region at large in the past week. Last week, dozens of Germans left Mombasa in a hired jet for their country.

A number of embassies had been working with the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) and other government agencies and airlines to facilitate the travel of their citizens back home.

Some of them fear the alleged indiscipline among some Kenyans failing to observe strict measures outlined by the government to prevent the spread of the virus, the situation could easily get out of control and their nationals might be caught up in the mix.

Officials said the embassies also feared that local hospitals would not handle huge numbers of infected people in case of a major outbreak.

Some officials went for commercial flights while others chartered. Officials at the airports in Nairobi and Mombasa said there has been a marked departure of foreigners in the last few days. This happened even after the deadline for the commercial airlines passed.

“Some of the foreigners are coming from the region before they are evacuated,” said a source.

Specific embassies in Nairobi asked their airlines to be allowed to the country to evacuate their nationals.

Those that pushed their citizens to leave ahead of the deadline included the United Kingdom, Germany, the US, Norway, Netherlands, and Switzerland.

KCAA had alerted airlines of plans to suspend international flights to Kenya over coronavirus spread.

KCAA boss Gilbert Kibe said this followed a directive issued by the National Emergency Response Committee (NERC) on March 22.

“A notice to Airmen (NOTAM) has already been issued suspending all international flights into Kenya, effective tomorrow midnight (March 25th, 2359hrs). Only cargo flights will be allowed into the country, with the crew expected to self-isolate within designated airport hotels,” he said.

Germany, Danish and Norwegian embassies had also been organising for the evacuation of their citizens.

Kenya Airways announced cargo flights will, however, remain operational to offer emergency services and supplies.

“To comply with this directive, we have therefore temporarily suspended all international services effective midnight 25th March 2020, until further notice,” said KQ Managing Director and CEO Allan Kilavuka.

He noted that domestic flights to Mombasa and Kisumu will remain operational.


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