Retired Major Daudi Kibati, the KQ pilot who succumbed to coronavirus on Wednesday, April 1, had tested negative for the bug on three occasions before he was confirmed to be a carrier on Sunday, March 29, his brother, Arnold Kibati, has revealed.
Speaking to K24 Digital on Friday, April 3, Arnold said Daudi returned to Kenya on March 24 from New York, USA, and COVID-19 test on him upon arrival returned negative.
Captain Daudi was behind the cockpit on a KQ plane that was evacuating Kenyans from New York after the State announced that it will be placed under lockdown beginning March 23.
Several Kenyans in New York were stranded, and Kenya Airways offered to fly them to Kenya at no cost on March 23. At the time, the Kenyan Government had announced that it would, on March 25, ban international flights from arriving at or leaving Kenyan airports.
Captain Daudi was thus tasked to fly Kenyans from the John F Kennedy Airport on March 23, and, at the same time, beat the Government March 25 cut-off for passenger flight arrivals in Kenya.
New York, at the time, had over 90, 000 persons infected with coronavirus, and more than 1, 200 had succumbed to the disease.
And Captain Daudi paid the ultimate price when he flew the Dreamliner 787 that touched down at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on March 24.
Daudi is said to have checked himself into Ole Sereni Hotel, where he quarantined.
Two COVID-19 tests that Daudi was subjected to, returned negative, his brother said. The pilot, however, chose to keep away from his family until he was confident that he hadn’t contracted the virus.
A week before the New York to Nairobi flight, Daudi had flown another plane from Nairobi to Rome, Italy, and back to Nairobi.
On March 29, the pilot is said to have developed a sore throat and mild fever. He was taken to Nairobi Hospital, where he was confirmed to be coronavirus positive. Daudi was, thereafter, placed under quarantine.
“After being exposed to thorough tests in major cities across the world, and three times in Kenya, my brother tested positive for coronavirus on the eighth day,” Arnold told K24 Digital.
Captain Daudi is a retired Kenya Air Force officer, who — after leaving the disciplined forces — joined KQ as a senior captain.
His family describes him as a cool person, who detested being under the public scrutiny.
The Late Daudi will be laid to rest at his ancestral home in Mavindini Village in Kavisuni Location, Kitui Rural Constituency on Saturday, April 4. The ceremony will only be attended by his family members.
The deceased, 61, is survived by his wife and children.
His widow, Jane Kibati, ran for Kitui Woman Representative seat in the August 8, 2017 general election, but lost to Irene Muthoni Kasalu, the current woman legislator for the county.