NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 5 – The Kenyan government has warned its citizens against discriminating on Chinese nationals in the country over the coronavirus epidemic because this is a global challenge.
As at Thursday, there were more than 3000 deaths and more than 93,000 cases reported around the world, many of them in China, but deaths have been reported in Italy, Iran and the United States.
In Africa, there are confirmed cases in Nigeria, Senegal but no death has been reported on the continent.
World leaders have warned against any form of discrimination of nationalities over the epidemic.
In Kenya, there have been reports of harassment of Chinese nationals, after videos emerged showing members of the public charging against them in different parts of the country, with some asking if they are suffering from the virus.
“If this is allowed to continue and their people decide to retaliate on the other side, then we will have more to lose,” said Dr Karanja Kibicho, Interior Principal Secretary when answering questions from a Parliamentary Health Committee on Wednesday.
Kibicho said that if such trend continues, it might put more than 3,000 Kenyans living in China at risk, if they decide to retaliate.
“We are worried as Interior because of what we are seeing now. Some Kenyans are mishandling Chinese nationals because of this coronavirus. I want to ask Kenyans to be careful because not all Chinese are sick,” he said.
Chinese Ambassador to Kenya Wu Peng has also advised against discriminating nationals from the country over the epidemic.
“This kind of locating some kind of diseases to some people or targetted geographical areas is totally wrong,” he told CGTN in an interview this week, and cited Ebola, the deadly epidemic that killed thousands and was never referred to us Africa virus.
“This discrimination and prejudice will only do harm to the people and the war against the epidemic,” he warned.
Kibicho has asked Kenyans to be tolerant and treat all foreigners in the country with respect.
“This virus is now worldwide, and we have people from different countries here. Therefore, let us be humane and treat everyone with love and respect,” Kibicho pleaded and warned of tough action on offenders.
His remarks came a day after a clip went viral on social media showing a group of Kenyans mocking Chinese and referring to them as Corona in Kibera.
Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia, said they are reviewing all the flights and collecting each passenger’s travel history.
He assured that the Emergency Response Committee on Coronavirus will be keeping Kenyans updated on what the government is doing, to avoid anxiety.