Senators have demanded that the national government evacuates Kenyans from China’s coronavirus-ravaged Wuhan city.
The lawmakers also want the national carrier, Kenya Airways, to stop further flights to and from China until the Covid-19 outbreak is contained.
Kenya Airways temporarily halted all flights to and from Guangzhou starting Friday 31, 2020.
Other global airlines suspended their flights to mainland China, after the upsurge of the deadly virus claimed more than 2,004 lives.
Though the government has insisted that blanketed Kenyans in Wuhan will not be evacuated, the senators have asked for presidential intervention.
Families of at least 100 Kenyan students are stranded in Wuhan City.
“What any responsible country would do is to evacuate Kenyans from the area of danger back to our country,” said Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula. “This is what other countries are doing; Australia and Malaysia have done that. The European countries are also doing that.”
Mr. Wetangula said it was disheartening to hear the Ambassador to China Sarah Serem asking for prayers for students stuck in the coronavirus- infected city.
“Prayers are good, but this is not a matter that we should look for divine intervention; we need physical intervention,” added Wetang’ula.
“They can take one or two planeloads of our students and any other Kenyans living in China and bring them back and stop Kenyans from going to China just like Australia has stopped its nationals until it is declared free of this virus,” he added.
The Bungoma senator was making his remarks on statement sought by nominated Senator Sylvia Kasanya on the country’s level of preparedness concerning the coronavirus.
On Tuesday, National Treasury Cabinet secretary Ukur Yatani while presenting the budget proposals for ministry, disclosed that his ministry is yet to allocate funds for emergency evacuation of the students, but clarified money would be provided should the need arise.
He said the decision to evacuate them rests with the Foreign Affairs ministry.
“If the situation becomes compelling, money will be provided. And we are set,” Yatani said.
Earlier, Siaya Senator James Orengo regretted the remarks of Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau in what he termed as “a very pedantic and casual manner” in addressing the plight of Kenyans.
Orengo said PS Kamau’s remarks were unfortunate because populations of Kenyans going and living in China; and the Chinese who are coming to Kenya, is a large population.
“A lot of people everyday have contact, either directly with people who are working or living in China; or indirectly with people who are coming to places which Kenya is connected to,” he said.
He asked the Foreign Affairs and Health ministries to provide statistics of Kenyans who are living in Wuhan.
“As you know, that town is the biggest city in Hubei province, and the population there is very big. There are many Kenyans living in that province. We not only need statistics and data, but also what Kenya is doing in the real sense so that when we are hit, there will be facilities to deal with the problem,” he said.