•Kenyan students say they are frustrated seeing their friends from other countries evacuated while they remain
•Head of disease surveillance says it is not necessary to hold someone for 14 days because blood tests can detect the virus even during the asymptomatic period
The 85 Kenyans stuck in Wuhan city, where the coronavirus outbreak originated, will be brought home immediately China lifts the lockdown over the city.
The Ministry of Health yesterday said the evacuation was being coordinated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Kenyan students are currently caged in their dorm cubicles in fear, only going out when authorities distribute food to foreign students every other day.
Newly-appointed Health CAS Dr Mercy Mwangangi said the evacuation would only happen when Chinese authorities lift the lockdown over Wuhan.
"However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is in constant communication with the 85 Kenyan students," she told the National Assembly Committee on Health yesterday.
She said efforts to prevent the virus spreading into Kenya were being coordinated by the ministries of Health, Interior, Defence, Foreign Affairs, Transport and the Kenya Red Cross.
"We have identified two holding rooms at JKIA and set up isolation facility at KNH. Additional satellite isolation facilities have been earmarked for Nairobi county," she said.
Mwangangi and Principal Secretary Susan Mochache appeared before the committee to explain Kenya's preparedness in handling an outbreak here.
It is not clear how long the Wuhan lockdown will last, but many foreign counties are already repatriating their citizens.
The Kenyan students say they are increasingly frustrated seeing their friends from other countries evacuated while they remain.
"Please, we need urgent assistance here in Wuhan. The Kenyan Embassy seems to have abandoned us. We really need urgent assistance. It's a very serious situation," said John Mulongo, a student in Wuhan.
Australia, the European Union, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, India, New Zealand, Japan, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States are all in various states of preparation to evacuate their citizens from the city. But no African country has evacuated its citizens.
Last week, the Kenyan embassy in Beijing sent out a press release asking Kenyans to “protect themselves and comply with the measures put in place by the local authorities”.
Countries that evacuate their citizens are faced with the prospect of importing the virus along with those coming home.
They are therefore isolating the returnees for 14 days within which tests are conducted.
Head of disease surveillance Dr Daniel Lang'at said it was not necessary to hold someone for 14 days.
"Blood tests can detect the virus even during the asymptomatic 14 day period," he told MPs yesterday.
Kenya's ambassador to China Sarah Serem had last week ruled out an evacuation.
She said Kenya will not risk further infection by jetting citizens from China due to the coronavirus scare.
Serem said it would be better if Kenyans in China were monitored and protected as China found a way to terminate the highly infectious virus.
"I don't think Kenya is ready to deal with the virus. The government of China is in a better position to deal with the virus and bringing Kenyans in China back to Kenya will only further expose the rest to the danger of infection," she said.