China Southern Airlines has resumed flights to Kenya from China even as the dreaded Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) spreads across the world like wildfire, with the confirmed death toll standing at 2,770 as of Wednesday, February 26.
The Ministry of Health confirmed the resumption in a statement advising the 239 passengers who arrived at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) on a China Southern Airlines flight on Wednesday, February 26, to quarantine themselves for a 14-day period.
"China Southern Airlines resumed its flights to Nairobi today. All 239 passengers were screened on-board, cleared and advised to self-quarantine for the next 14 days," the statement read in part.
A widely-circulated video of the plane landing (see end of story) had sparked angry reactions from a section of Kenyans who questioned the government's commitment to keeping citizens safe from the virus.Passengers pictured at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) following a disruption on March 6, 2019Daily Nation
China Southern operates three to four weekly flights between Nairobi and Guangzhou, China.
"They're landing yet Kenyans are stuck in China and can't move. Are we a colony of China?" posed Peter Muoki on Twitter, making reference to over 100 Kenyan students stranded in Wuhan, the Coronavirus epicenter.
"Kenya is playing with fire, voluntary self-quarantine? Cancel the flights from China," demanded Bel Akinyi.
"So, we wait till we get infected then we stop the flights?" asked Dee Naani.
The Health Ministry revealed in the statement that it had so far investigated 17 suspected cases of Coronavirus in the country, with all testing negative.
Kenyans exhibiting symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing, wheezing and sneezing with a history of recent travel to China were also urged to check themselves in at the nearest health facility.
The national carrier Kenya Airways suspended all flights to and from China on January 31 on the back of public pressure after the virus outbreak.
“Further to our prior communication, we have temporarily suspended flights to and from Guangzhou effective January 31 until further notice. We, however, clarify that our service to Bangkok, Thailand, remains operational,” the airline had announced.
On February 5, it emerged that the government had engaged the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) in talks with the possibility of suspending all flights to and from China discussed.
"We have already issued safety guidelines to the airlines plying the China route, but we are consulting for further necessary action, which may include suspension,” KCAA Director-General Gilbert Kibe had told The Standard.
Watch a video of the plane landing below:
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