By Andrew Wasike
NAIROBI, Kenya (AA) – Kenya’s Health Minister suspended flights to and from India for 14 days on Wednesday following an uproar on social media that demanded the East African nation take action on the coronavirus.
Mutahi Kagwe said the National Emergency Response Committee (NERC) held a crisis meeting and decided that because of the catastrophic situation in India and surging COVID-19 infections, measures had to be taken to curb the spread of the virus.
Kagwe said that “given the dire events in India, we resolved to suspend all passenger flights in and out of the country for a period of 14 days. This suspension is to take effect from midnight this coming Saturday.”
Cargo planes will remain in service.
Social media platforms were swamped with messages Wednesday that insisted the Health Ministry act following reports that a passenger plane had left India and was headed for the Kenyan capital of Nairobi.
Kenya was among just a few countries still allowing passenger flights from India, angering Kenyans and causing an uproar on social media.
“By now, flights from India ought to have been suspended. Other countries will impose strict measures like hotel quarantine for passengers from Kenya. Someone tell our CS [cabinet secretary of health] to suspend Indian flights,” said Twitter user Walker Imutembei.
Another Twitter user, Bill Oduor lamented: “Why is Kenya not banning flights from India at such a time that they've been seriously hit with Corona?”
Geoffrey Godfrey asked the Ministry of Health: "Why allow Flights from India then punish us with restrictions? Let in a Chinese flight-covid arrived, Let in Uk flights -Deadlier strain arrived, Now allowing Indian flights? place with the deadliest covid strain, Dont you learn? Or you just dont care?"
India is one of Kenya’s most lucrative destinations, especially as a medical tourist destination, serving Kenyans who are seeking treatment and those importing special medications.
A total of 834 Kenyans tested positive for the virus on Wednesday bringing confirmed cases to 158,326. Cumulative tests stand at 1,659,506 with 1,300 patients currently admitted to facilities.
Twenty-three deaths have been reported in the last 24 hours.