National carrier Kenya Airways has suspended flights to China following the outbreak of coronavirus.
In a statement on Friday morning, KQ stated that the indefinite suspension of all flights to and from Guangzhou is effective Friday, January 31, 2019.
The airline, however, noted that flights to and from Bangkok in Thailand remain operational.
“Our consultation with the Ministries of Health and Foreign Affairs will continue and we will provide updates as the situation develops, ” the statement reads in part.
This comes days after Kenyan ambassador to China Sarah Serem called on the airline to suspend its flights over the virus that has over a hundred people dead and thousands infected.
On Wednesday KQ announced that it would not suspend its flights despite pressure from Kenyans.
“Cancellation of the flights is on the table but we are monitoring and we will take the action as soon as there’s imminent danger,” the airline’s acting chief executive officer Allan Kilavuka said.
The change of heart was apparently informed by the cancellation of several flights to and from China by several airlines including Ethiopian Airlines yesterday.
Other countries that have cancelled their flights to and from China include British Airways, Air Canada and Germany’s Lufthansa.
On Tuesday, a student from China’s Wuhan town, the outbreak’s epicentre, was isolated after landing at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), before being taken to Kenyatta National Hospital with coronavirus-like symptoms.
On Friday morning, outgoing Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki announced that the student tested negative.
According to the CS, samples taken from the student had been taken to South Africa for further analysis and tested negative for the coronavirus.
Before being taken to South Africa the samples were tested at National Influenza but the ministry said it needed a verification.
“Results carried out on the case in isolation have been sent to South Africa for further analysis to have a clear guideline on how we can deal with this challenge,” Ms Kariuki on Thursday.
Last week, the Ministry of Health disclosed that it had activated screening in all entry points to prevent entry of coronavirus into the country.
“As a country, we have sent an alert to all the 47 counties through county directors. We have also heightened surveillance at all points of entry and screening has started,” said Dr Patrick Amoth, the Acting Public Health Director-General.
New York Times reports that the deadly virus causes a pneumonialike illness, with coughing and fever in some people but not all. The severity matters: If there are cases with mild illness or no symptoms at all, they may go undetected, and those people will keep working, shopping and traveling, possibly infecting others.