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Hundreds of Chinese leave Kenya over coronavirus fears

By Jacqueline Mahugu | August 1st 2020
Chinese nationals at the International Departures terminal at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi, yesterday. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Hundreds of Chinese yesterday flocked the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to exit the country a day before international flights started arriving into the country.

Amid the surge in the number of covid-19 infections in Kenya, many were pictured dressed in extra layers of protection, with others fully dressed in personal protective equipment (PPE) normally reserved for hospitals.

Repatriation flight

The Chinese were leaving on a repatriation flight, a China Southern Airlines, flight that had been chartered by the Embassy of China, according to a reliable source from the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA).

“That is quite normal. It has been happening for the last couple of months and it has been different nationalities,” said the source.

During a Covid-19 press briefing yesterday, Health CS Mutahi Kagwe said the authorities were not concerned over the numbers of Chinese leaving the country.

“The reason being that we have also got planeloads of Kenyans who have for example left the UK, the US and come back home.

“There are many Chinese in Kenya and I am sure they probably had an arrangement where they were going to be evacuated,” said Kagwe.

He added, “I think it is just their normal way of traveling and they are evacuating those they might want to evacuate. They are free to do so as we are also doing the same with our people elsewhere,” he said.

Processed travel

PS Transport Solomon Kitungu, said the ministry had been allowing the movement of people undertaking essential services and that the flight had been planned earlier.

“So this is something that had already been processed earlier. It is only that it is coming very close to August 1. But it had been processed, because many of them are involved in quite a number of construction companies and they had made a request and that had been accepted. It was an arranged flight for evacuation,” said Kitungu.

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