Kenyan Traveller Arriving from Ethiopia Recounts How She Was Waved Through JKIA Without Screening

JKIA [Photo/Courtesy]

The Kenyan government has for the umpteenth time assured the nation that intense screening has been activated in all entry points including airports to prevent the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), but those who have been to these areas say otherwise.

A woman, who recently flew in from Ethiopia, has poked holes in the government’s efforts to contain the Coronavirus pandemic.

In a lengthy Facebook post, the woman identified as Caroline Tatua, shared her experience at Kenya’s largest airport, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi.

Ms Tatua says her experience at JKIA was “disappointing” as the staff casually handled the passengers who had just arrived from a country that has reported six cases of COVID-19.

The staff, she says, could not even allow the passengers to fill surveillance forms. They were directed to pass through the scanners without questioning.

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“Yesterday, I returned back home from Addis through JKIA. Having read of  the seriousness with which the Kenyan government was treating the  Corona Virus presence In the country, I Was prepared at the very least for screening, temperature checks and information to passengers on What next.. e.g. the need for self-quarantine With proper contact details documentation., ” she wrote.

“My first stop was the port health.. where we all rushed to fill In the surveillance forms specifically for COVID 19 and Eboia.. while in the process, one of the port health officers asked us where we were from and we promptly said “Addis… (expecting to see a change in urgency to screen us)… But alas and behold.. he told us that there was no need to fill the forms and asked us to pass through the walk-in thermal scanner, ” she said.

“I was shocked as this was the first time I had seen Port Health downplay surveillance forms filling and I am not sure our response about coming from Addis meant anything to him or the rest who asked… We passed  through the scanner (which by the way more often has standard temperature values of between 34- 36 degrees Celsius (which If Interpreted  would mean that most people are largely hypothermic.. like vampires.”

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This was the trend even in the second desk where she was only asked to produce her Yellow Fever Certificate.

Concerned of “relaxed” COVID-19 screening, the woman claims she made an effort to seek clarification from members of staff at JKIA screening point but nobody seemed to care.

In fact, the woman says, a male member of staff told her to just walk away.

“I called the Emergency lines to report this and the phone call went unanswered.  At the Immigration desk, we filled a form and from the look of things, the contact details were too scanty to trace anyone If needed! So In other words.. thanks to our super relaxed screening at the airport- we let passengers from a case positive country get Into the country without any reasonable screening and none of us was even Informed on the need to self-quarantine! ” she added.

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She added, “Perhaps at this time- we need to have some seriousness at JKIA’s port health and ensure that only our keenest, most serious and most patriotic health workers are at the points of entry and that they can access up to date training and information on COVID19… So that the serious message about the response on paper from MoH, becomes serious In reality.”

Yesterday, while giving an update on COVID-19, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said the ministry is on a high alert following the increasing number of cases of the virus confirmed in the country.

The CS noted that all persons arriving in the country are subjected to mandatory screening at the airport and directed to self-quarantine for days.

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He added that the government had erected screening machines at the airport and that no individual should imagine that they would enter the country without being screened.

Considering the CS’s remarks one would imagine, why was the lady and other passengers from Ethiopia not directed to self-quarantine knowing very well that the country has confirmed cases of COVID-19.

The developments would only leave one thinking that the government is not serious with the fight against COVID-19 that has left at least 9200 people dead and over 200,000 others quarantined globally.

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Written by Kahawa Tungu


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