NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 27- The Government has allayed fears that Kenyans might be exposed to the deadly coronavirus for adopting a self-quarantine measure on Chinese nationals arriving in the country.
Though it is entirely anchored on an individual’s honesty, authorities say there are strict measures to ensure the World Health Organisation (WHO) regulation is followed.
“We are very strict on this, but it’s all about one’s honesty,” said Dr Rashid Aman, a Chief Administrative Secretary at the Ministry of Health that has come under sharp criticism from Kenyans on coronavirus preparedness.
He defended the Ministry’s decision to have more than 200 passengers who arrived in the country on Wednesday from China, to self-quarantine.
“Most of them are doing this with fidelity. We know this because we work closely with the Chinese embassy,” the CAS told a news conference, as Kenyans also blamed the Foreign Affairs Ministry for not banning flights from China like most developed nations, including the USA and UK which suspended flights several weeks ago, following the epidemic that claimed more than 2000 lives and infected over 80,000, mainly in China .
Iran recorded 26 deaths Thursday, in what has also affected top government officials.
Raychelle Omamo, who took over recently as Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs, told a parliamentary group that there were no plans, in the near future, to ban flights from China over the delay virus, after a China Southern airlines flight landed in Nairobi with more than 200 on board Wednesday.
“There is no cause for alarm,” she said, assuring that passengers are always screened in accordance with WHO guidelines.
Omamo and the Health Ministry CAS said the government was working closely with the Chinese Embassy in Nairobi in providing advance details of people arriving from China for adequate quarantine measures.
Anyone arriving from China or countries at greater risk of coronavirus are required to remain in self-quarantine for 14 days, the incubation period for the deadly virus.
In case someone develops coronavirus-like symptoms, the CAS said they “know who to contact, so that they can receive medication.”
The country has a 14-bed capacity ward at the Kenyatta National Hospital, where isolation in case any coronavirus cases is confirmed.
Another ward, with a much larger capacity, Amoth said was being prepared at the Mbagathi District Hospital. It will be ready in a month’s time.
“The Ministry continues to maintain a heightened surveillance system at all points of entry, health facilities, and communities across the country,” he said.
Of the 17 alerts received by the Ministry, he said all tested negative for the killer disease.
Already, he said, the Government has developed a national contingency plan, which will guide implementation of priority preparedness and response activities “in view of the threat posed by importation of COVID-19 into Kenya.”