NAIROBI, Kenya Feb 28 – China Southern Airlines announced Friday it was suspending flights to Kenya following public uproar over coronavirus fears.
The airline cited the low passenger volume on the Nairobi-Changsha-Nairobi route in making the decision.
“Due to the decreasing volume of passenger flow, China Southern Airlines has made necessary adjustments by suspending flights connecting Guangzhou, Changsha and Nairobi until further notice,” the airline said in a statement issued a day after a flight with 239 passengers caused uproar in the country.
On Friday, the High Court ordered the government to stop flights from China for 10 days, in a case filed by the Law Society of Kenya (LSK).
It also ordered the government to bar travelers from coronavirus hotspots from entering the country.
The court subsequently ordered that all the passengers be rounded up and taken to a military health facility for quarantine until they are declared safe to mingle with other people.
Justice James Makau ruled that “the government should move with speed to forthwith trace, account re-examine, confine and quarantine in a Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) facility or a specially guarded medical facility all the 239 passengers that they let into the country aboard a Chinese flight CZ6043 which landed at JKIA on February 26, 2020 at 7:30am until they are duly certified to be free from coronavirus (COVID -19) pending the inter parte hearing.”
The urgent application was filed by a medical doctor identified in suit papers as Mithika Mwenda, the LSK and city lawyer James Kkounah.
They argued in their case that it was unconstitutional and unlawful for the government to have allowed entry of a flight from China while fully aware of the deadly effects of the virus that has killed more than 2000 people and infected more than 80,000 others, mainly in China. More cases have been reported in Iran where 26 people have been killed, among other countries.
Sub-Saharan Africa reported its first confirmed case in Nigeria on Friday.
The applicants through their lawyers Henry Kurauka Ochiel Duddley told the judge that the lives of many Kenyans is at risk.
They said even the symptoms and medication of the virus has not been established, hence the need to take serious measures.
“Other countries worldwide have stopped flights from China into their country. Kenya cannot be an exception,” they argued, in convincing the judge to issue orders stopping flights from China.
The judge directed that the application be served upon Cabinet Secretaries for Interior, Health, Transport, Foreign Affairs, the Attorney General and the Kenya Airports Authority, with responses expected. The case will be heard on March 3.