Coronavirus: Did Saudi Arabia Know Kenya's Case Before CS' Announcement?

  • Ministry of Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe addresses the media from the Mbagathi District Hospital on Friday, March 6, 2020.
    Ministry of Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe addresses the media from the Mbagathi District Hospital on Friday, March 6, 2020.
    Simon Kiragu
    KENYANS.CO.KE
  • On Wednesday, March 11, Saudi Arabia banned the entry of Kenyans and several other countries including India, Pakistan, Switzerland, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Sudan, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia and the European Union into the Kingdom over the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

    At the time, there was no case of coronavirus reported in Kenya and citizens wondered why the Kingdom had banned Kenyans from visiting. 

    Two days later, on Friday, March 13, Health CS Mutahi Kagwe announced that the first case of coronavirus had been reported in the country.

    A health practitioner in protective gear at Coronavirus treatment and isolation facility in Mbagathi District Hospital, Nairobi on Friday, March 6, 2020.
    A health practitioner in protective gear at Coronavirus treatment and isolation facility in Mbagathi District Hospital, Nairobi on Friday, March 6, 2020.
    Simon Kiragu
    KENYANS.CO.KE

    "I want to inform you that the Ministry of Health has confirmed the first case in Kenya. It was confirmed last night, Thursday, March 12.

    She is a Kenyan citizen who travelled back to Nairobi, returning from the US via London, UK on March 5, 2020," Mutahi proclaimed, begging the question of whether Saudi Arabia received the news of the first coronavirus case a day before Kenyan citizens.

    A section of Kenyans has been sceptical with the government's honesty with regards to information about Coronavirus. 

    "Despite widespread public mistrust of the Kenyan government and its low public credibility, I think it is wise, and indeed a civic duty for Kenyans to listen carefully and obey government's instructions and edicts on the Coronavirus. Give the government the benefit of doubt," advised lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi. 

    Attempts to reach the Government Spokesperson Cyrus Oguna were futile.

    Kenyans are among millions who travel to Saudi Arabia to seek employment.

    The number of confirmed coronavirus cases stands at 62 according to the official Saudi news agency.

    Among those who have contracted the virus, 11 were foreign nationals.

    The global COVID-19 death toll currently stands at over 4,200 with 119,000 confirmed cases around the world. 

    Some of the diseases that have been declared pandemic in the past include cholera, smallpox, influenza and bubonic plague that were ranked as the deadliest in the history of the world.

    The World Health Organisation officially declared the outbreak of COVID-19 a pandemic following the spread of the disease to over 100 countries.

    "We are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity [of COVID-19], and by the alarming levels of inaction," informed Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of WHO.

     "We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic," he continued. 

    According to the World Health Organization, a pandemic is defined as the worldwide spread of a new disease whereas, an outbreak is the occurrence of disease cases in excess of what's normally expected and an epidemic is more than a normal number cases of an illness, specific health-related behaviour or other health-related events in a community or region. 

    A tourist is screened for Coronavirus at the Port of Mombasa on February 13, 2020
    A tourist is screened for Coronavirus at the Port of Mombasa on February 13, 2020
    Daily Nation