How China plane was ‘held’ at JKIA for hours over coronavirus scare

By George Kebaso On Thu, 6 Feb, 2020 09:51 | 2 mins read
JKIA
JKIA. PHOTO | FILE

There was panic at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) for the better part of Wednesday as authorities quarantined passengers aboard China Southern Airlines flight from China over a coronavirus scare.

A source at the airport said the plane, which landed at 7.45 am from China, was held for close to nine hours before the passengers were allowed to disembark.

The aircraft was moved from Terminal 18, where passengers were scheduled to disembark to Terminal 2.

“The flight was supposed to depart at 1 pm but by now (4 pm) it is still being quarantined,” said the source, adding that whereas it was not clear how many passengers had been isolated for further screening, the source said the information he had indicated close to 10 people had been isolated.

The source said that the airport health officials were still holding a number of people, “most of them of Chinese origin for further screening”.

However, the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) denied the claims dismissing them as “social media stuff.”

Speaking to People Daily on the phone, KAA’s Angela Tilitei said the airline had not reported any issue, and that all the passengers on board the flight had alighted and screened as required before being released.

But in a statement, the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority indicated the China Southern Airline flight may not have been properly cleared to land.

The authority’s director-general Gilbert Kibe said KCAA had issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) guiding airlines from China instructing them to inform Air Traffic Control on cases of coronavirus symptoms for timely attention.

“Any suspected cases will be sent to the nearest health facilities through ambulance,” a tweet from the Chinese embassy in Nairobi reads.

“A senior ministry official has confirmed to the Embassy that all passengers by China Southern Airlines arriving at JKIA today were screened and cleared,” the Embassy further said on its twitter page.

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