Coronavirus: Kenya mulls suspending Nairobi-Rome flights

A Kenya Airways plane: Kenya is considering suspending flights between Nairobi and Rome. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Kenya is considering suspending flights between Nairobi and Rome a day after it took a similar move on flights from northern Italy cities of Milan and Verona.

Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia told the joint National Assembly and Senate committee on Health that flights between Kenya and Iran had also been cancelled.

“Kenya does not have direct flights to and from Iran. We are also monitoring Kenya Airways flights to Rome and Milan because, as you know, Italy has been hit hard by the virus in Verona,” Mr Macharia told the committee.

Italy and Iran have reported the highest number of deaths from the coronavirus outbreak outside of China with 79 and 54 deaths respectively as at Tuesday.

Latest reports indicate that Italy is currently considering closing all its schools and universities up to mid-March to tame the spread of the deadly virus.

Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho, who appeared before the committee alongside Mr Macharia, however, said the government had not traced the 239 Chinese nationals who arrived in the country last week from China.

The High Court had ordered the State to track and isolate the 239 in a military isolation camp days after they landed in Nairobi aboard a China Southern Airlines plane.

“We have contacts of the 239 but then we have not been able to mobilise them into the KDF facility as directed by the court,” Dr Kibicho told the committee.

The two had been summoned alongside Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe, who skipped yesterday’s session. Some committee members criticised what they termed Mr Kagwe’s casual approach to the disease outbreak that has now spread to over 60 countries.

“The CS who is away should be mentioned on the floor of the House. It is a shame he is not here and selfish that he is not making time yet this is a global pandemic,” Wajir South Member of Parliament Mohamud Sheikh said.


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