Quarantined in a bus? Kenyan's ordeal after landing at JKIA

Standed in a bus in the biting cold: Kenyans landing at JKIA stranded

In Summary

• With no clear details of what is expected of them, Wanjiru said there were no guidelines on what they need to do upon their arrival.

Passengers stranded at the JKIA,.
Passengers stranded at the JKIA,.
Image: COURTESY, KARIUKI MWANGI

After the government directive that passengers who come to Kenya should be quarantined, no measures have been put in place to enforce this as passengers get stranded at JKIA.

Health CS Mutahi Kagwe had ordered the suspension of all international flights from midnight Wednesday and directed that any passengers arriving in the intervening period would be quarantined at designated premises.

Some passengers who landed at 9:50pm on Monday have not been addressed by anyone after their arrival at JKIA via British Airways.

By 4:57am on Tuesday, they were still stranded at the airport with the unapologetic cold keeping them awake.

 

"No tests have been done, no direction. There is nothing here whatsoever," a woman, who only wanted to be identified as Wanjiru, told the Star on Tuesday.

 With no clear details of what is expected of them, Wanjiru said there were no guidelines on what they need to do upon their arrival.

Buses arrive at the Kenyatta University on Tuesday.
Buses arrive at the Kenyatta University on Tuesday.
Image: COURTESY, KARIUKI MWANGI

"What social isolation are they talking about when we can be infected at the airport? "she posed.

Wanjiru was coming from the UK. Her initial return flight was booked last year in October but was cancelled by Swiss Air on Thursday.

She was to travel on Friday so her family members were forced to buy her annew ticket since her visa was also expiring.

After spending the whole night at JKIA, the National Youth Service buses came at 5:15am to take them to Kenyatta University where they were to be quarantined.

 

This is after they signed quarantine forms when disembarking.

"When we arrived at KU, the university has refused to let us in from 6am," she said.

"This bus has no opening windows and we are like 30 in this bus."

NYS buses still stranded./KARIS MWANGI
NYS buses still stranded./KARIS MWANGI

After nearly four hours outside the KU gate, the university rejected them.

"The bus has changed route, passengers have been told they are going to try their luck at University of Nairobi, we don't know which one," she said.

"They've changed their minds. We're still at the KU gate and they're trying to see where else to take us other than UoN."

Wanjiru said officials asked her and other passengers to pay Sh5,000 to get tested for Covid-19.

Her relative Kariuki Mwangi told the Star that the situation was unfortunate.

"This is happening two days after Kenya government announced they will forcefully quarantine passengers and yet no advance plans had been made to quickly process these passengers," Mwangi said.

Mwangi noted that they  support the quarantine but exposing passengers and staff working at JKIA to inhumane treatment is totally unacceptable.

"These Kenyans coming home have rights too, sadly we are all too scared of the virus that we are okay when our rights are infringed. If this is how we are going to beat COVID-19 we are damned," he said. 

At Monday’s press briefing, Kagwe apologised to parents of the young people and passengers under the mandatory quarantine for the inconvenience they suffered.

However, he said better systems were now in place.

According to the Public Health Act, an individual who is forcibly quarantined does not necessarily have a right to be released from that quarantine but has a right to demand some sort of adjudicative process to determine whether the quarantine is justified.

Ministry of Health director general Patrick Amoth said he was in a meeting and could not talk.