Kenya’s most COVID-19 cases imported from outside China


There has been a long-held misconception that COVID-19 which was first detected in Kenya on March 12 was imported by travelers from China into the east African nation.

However, a Ministry of Health analysis has shattered this myth, with figures from the government institution responsible for the fight against the new coronavirus disease, indicating that most of the confirmed cases were imported from other countries or regions.

The analysis shows that of the first 621 COVID-19 cases reported in Kenya (700 as of Monday), 163 were imported, with Dubai in the UAE contributing about a third (47) of the imports, a report by the local daily, the Daily Nation said on Tuesday.

From Africa, Kenya recorded 50 infections (about a third) from people who had traveled from different nations in the continent, including Nigeria, Somalia, Tanzania and Congo.

Europe came third with 30 cases, followed by North America (US) with 15 and South America one.

On the other hand, China, where COVID-19 was first reported, contributed only two cases – a man and a woman – having traveled from the country.

The Health ministry figures that comprise incoming travelers that were placed under quarantine, indicate that in every five of the imported cases, two of the infections were from Asia, where the UAE is located.

Other countries, besides the UAE and China, in Asia which contributed to virus imports into Kenya include Pakistan (7) and Qatar (5).

Kenyans on Feb. 26 castigated the government for allowing a flight from China with 239 passengers jet into the country at a time the virus cases were rising globally.

At the time, COVID-19 cases in Wuhan city, the epicenter of the virus, were on the rise thus citizens were concerned that allowing the flight from China would expose the country.

“The numbers from the health ministry vindicate the Kenyan government on its reluctance to cut air links with China,” said the Daily Nation report.

“One explanation for China’s minimal contribution to the global spread of the virus has been attributed to its swift move to contain the virus. On Jan. 23, the government locked down Wuhan and other cities in Hubei province when not many cases had been reported in other provinces and the world had recorded only 500 cases,” it said.

Kenya and UAE have long trade relations, with hundreds of businesspersons from the east African nation traveling to the country for goods every year.

Hundreds of Kenyans are also employed in the UAE, in particular the capital Dubai, where they work in the hospitality, shipping, legal and households sectors.

It is these people that are noted to have imported the virus into Kenya before the government introduced mandatory quarantine from March 25.

Initially, Kenyans and foreigners returning to the country were only asked to self-isolate at their homes for 14 days.

Kenya’s first reported COVID-19 case traveled from the U.S. via London, the Daily Nation reports. By this time, Europe had inherited the epicenter title from China in March and passed it to the US in April. Enditem

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