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KQ: no decision yet to suspend China flights, safety measures in place on coronavirus

Kenya Airways has direct flights to Guangzhou.

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 29 – Kenya’s national carrier Kenya Airways said Thursday it was not planning to suspend flights to and from China in the wake of coronavirus that has killed over 130 and infected over 6000 others.

The airline issued the statement, a day after flying in a Kenyan student who had travelled from Wuhan city, the epicentre of the deadly viral disease.

The student was later taken to Kenyatta National Hospital where he was quarantined and samples taken from him for further tests at the Influence Centre. Results were due later Wednesday, according to Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki.

“The airline remains in consultation with the Ministry of Health and would like to assure our customers that we are evaluating all options and we will communicate the next steps of action at the appropriate time,” KQ said in a statement.

It also assured on “additional precautionary measures to ensure that our staff and customers are safe.”

Some of the measures KQ is taking include screening all passengers at Guangzhou Airport.

“Passengers from Wuhan and sorrounding districts will only be accepted on our flights after clearance by the Guangzhou Airport health authorities,” it said.

On Wednesday, Kenya’s envoy to China Sarah Serem said the country will not evacuate its citizens from China yet with the primary focus being on containing the viral coronavirus outbreak.

Sarah Serem, Kenya’s High Commissioner in China, announced the decision on Wednesday while indicating that she had cancelled her leave to jet back to Beijing from where embassy staff are monitoring the epidemic that broke out in the city of Wuhan, Hubei province/FILE – Kenya High Commission, China

Serem, Kenya’s High Commissioner to China, announced the decision while indicating that she had cancelled her leave to jet back to Beijing from where embassy staff are monitoring the epidemic that broke out in the city of Wuhan, Hubei province.

“The best measure that has been taken by the Chinese government is to ensure that those within the area are not further exposed, so the option of evacuation shouldn’t be an immediate concern for now I think the best way is to contain and when the 14 days of quarantine are over, and everybody is safe then it’s easy to move and access,” Serem told Citizen TV in Eldoret.

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“I have had to cancel my leave to be on the ground, the unfortunate bit is that I can’t be in Wuhan because the place is on lock-down but the Kenyan embassy in Beijing is open 24 hours and we have been in contact with the Kenyan community in China giving them updates and assuring them that things are under control,” she stated.

The envioy said Kenyans in every province in China had been issued with emergency contacts to report any case that may arise and that it’s much safer to have the virus contained from within.

However, some countries such as the US, France and Japan have evacuated their citizens from Wuhan.

Others like Australia, France, India and South Korea are also preparing evacuation plans for hundreds of their citizens in the city.

While pointing out that she has cancelled her leave to fly to China on Wednesday evening, Serem stated that the embassy is in contact with Kenyans to help.

This is contrary to reports by some of the Kenyans in Wuhan that there has been no communication from the Kenyan Embassy in Beijing.

China locked down Hubei in an unprecedented operation affecting tens of millions of people and intended to slow transmission of the respiratory virus.

A statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday stated that the Kenyan embassy is aware of 85 Kenyans who are in Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus, the embassy in China urging unregistered Kenyans to contact the embassy.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs also cautioned Kenyans against non-essential travel to China’s Wuhan City.

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On Wednesday British Airways suspended booking on its website for direct flights from London to Beijing and Shanghai until March, after travel alerts to China following the outbreak.

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