'Doors closed from outside': How Kenyan living in China self-quarantines

"It's always better to be safe than sorry. This way you know you are safe.”

In Summary

•She notes that upon arrival, at her apartment gate, she found a make shift structure where they again take your temperature and give you a questionnaire to fill in regarding your travel history.

A worker in protective suit knocks a door to deliver the meal at a hotel being used as a centralised observation and quarantine place for people arriving from overseas, to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Beijing, China March 24, 2020.
A worker in protective suit knocks a door to deliver the meal at a hotel being used as a centralised observation and quarantine place for people arriving from overseas, to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Beijing, China March 24, 2020.
Image: China Daily via REUTERS

With the spread of coronavirus around the world, the Kenyan government is grappling putting together facilities of ensuring that people who jet into the country are quarantined without any hitches.

This though has not been easy with passengers who arrived on Monday getting a place to rest the next day in the evening and in messy places.

Can the government learn some lessons from the quarantine procedure in China?

 
 

The Star spoke to a Kenyan who lives in China who shed some light on how the procedures of quarantine take places in the Asian nation where the first cases of the coronavirus started.

“I came back to China from Lagos last Sunday. I went through Hong Kong first for two weeks. So upon arrival at the Shenzhen Bay Port which is the only open land port between Hong Kong and China at the moment, they took my temperature,” Mary Suzanne told the Star.

On video call, she explains the first of many long queues for all arrivals.

“Further up the line, you're divided into groups of 10. Here they take your temperature and ask questions on your travel history,” she says.

“Depending on if you came from a high-risk or low-risk country you can then proceed to the immigration (low) and straight to the hospital (high).”

Suzanne says during this period the officials checking your temperature and travel history are all wearing hazmat suits.

“So I was in the low-risk category and my temperature was ok. I went through immigration and took a cab to my place," she says.

 
 

ARRIVAL AT APARTMENT

She notes that upon arrival, at her apartment gate, she found a makeshift structure where again authorities take your temperature and give you a questionnaire to fill in regarding your travel history.

“Then you scan a QR code affiliated to your mobile phone service provider like in the case of Safaricom and Airtel back home,” Suzanne adds.

The scanning, she says helps the authorities to track your every movement.

“After that they made me buy a thermometer to take my temperature every day and let them know in case it goes over 37 degrees,” she says.

After that she was instructed not to leave her apartment for 14 days and that in case she needs any help she can call authorities.

“So the following day a cop comes to my house and asks about my travel history and takes my temperature. He proceeds to ask for airplane tickets (used) to back up my travel history story. I didn't have them because I threw them away so I had to provide screenshots of flight reservation emails,” she says.

“Then, he asks me to sign a quarantine commitment letter. If I didn't go through with the 14 days quarantine then I would be persecuted.”

FOOD

Suzanne says after all that they put tape on her door to alert her neighbours that she is on self-quarantine.

“…So now if I need food or any other stuff I have to order it online. Then the delivery guys bring it to my apartment gate where the security guard brings it up to my apartment mask and gloves on,” she says.

“If I need garbage thrown out I have to contact the apartment management and they pick it up.”

Noting that her door is locked from outside, Suzanne says that she is not allowed outside the house until the 14 days are over.

“…I can't leave until the 14 days are over and I test negative. It's been 10 days now, I'm waiting to see what happens next,” she says.

“Actually, I like it this way. It's the only way they can curb this thing. It's always better to be safe than sorry. This way you know you are safe.”

Here back at home, there have been cases where passengers arrive at the JKIA and are left stranded for sometime before they are taken into government buses to different quarantined facilities.

The government has repeatedly apologised for the 'mess' in quarantine facilities, as all indications point to lack of preparedness to handle the Covid-19 pandemic.

In early March, the government said it was prepared to handle an outbreak of the disease, adding it had an isolation unit at Mbagathi Hospital ready in case of any eventuality.