‘Coronavirus’ student cleared as KQ suspends China flights
Samples from a student suspected to be a coronavirus victim admitted at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) have tested negative, outgoing Health CS Sicily Kariuki confirmed Friday, ending fears that the acute viral respiratory disease had spread to Kenya from China.
At the same time, national carrier, Kenya Airways has suspended its flight from and to Nairobi and Guangzhou, China.
The samples had been dispatched to South Africa for further laboratory analysis but the patient had remained in isolation at KNH as the government awaited feedback of samples for a second opinion.
“We wish to inform members of the public that the laboratory results which we received on January 28 2019 from the National Influenza Centre and January 30 from South Africa revealed that the person under investigation does not have the novel Corona Virus 2019 disease but usual common cold,” the CS said.
She added: “We would like to call for calm and reassure citizens and everyone residing in Kenya that the country is free from novel Corona Virus 2019 and stringent measures have been put in place to prevent its importation into the country.”
She asked Kenyans to be vigilant and urged anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as fever, coughing, difficulty in breathing and sneezing with history on recent travel to China to seek medical attention for assessment.
She said the government has deployed necessary surveillance and monitoring systems across the country.
This comes even as national carrier, Kenya Airways Friday suspended its flight from and to Nairobi and Guangzhou, China, following the outbreak and widespread of the dangerous coronaviras which has so far extended to 18 countries including United States of America.
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern after it emerged that at least 213 people have died and more than 9,000 have been infected in China alone.
Concerned that movement of people from and to from Nairobi and Guangzhou, a sprawling port city northwest of Hong Kong, would lead to a spread of the disease in the country.
“We have temporarily suspended all flights to and from Guangzhou, China starting January 31, until further notice. We, however, clarify that our service between Nairobi and Bangkok remains operational,” the company said in a statement.
The management of Kenya Airways said they were still consulting with the Health and Foreign Affairs ministries of the aliment, which was first reported in Wuhan city where the government confirmed that there are 85 Kenyans living there.
Kenya, through its Embassy in Beijing, has issued an alert to its citizens living in China to take high precaution to protect them from the virus that is suspected to have affected dozens in several countries in the Asia-Pacific region as well as states in Europe, North America and the Middle East.
Counties where the ailment has been confirmed include Australia, Cambodia, Canada, France, Finland, Germany, India, Italy, Japan and Malaysia. Others include Nepal, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, United States, United Arab Emirates and Vietnam.