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Coronavirus: Kenyan student happy to be home from China ‘hell’

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When Bernard Muthuri boarded the Ethiopian Airways flight ET318 to Nairobi three weeks ago, he had no idea what was awaiting him.

In the wee hours of the morning, Mr Muthuri started his journey home from Xi’an city, China.

Eight hours later, with an hour’s layover at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, he landed at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) on February 23 at 10.25 am.

After a two-month lockdown in his hostel room at Changan University, the mechanical engineer was relieved to finally be home albeit Sh65,546 poorer.

Many Chinese cities have been quarantined following the outbreak of Covid-19.

Self-quarantine is increasingly being used across the world to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

But being home, yet still isolated, felt like eternity for Mr Muthuri. His mother had bought him enough food to prepare his own meals.

“It was like hell. Some family members wanted to forcibly see me. I remember there’s a day my uncle came home drunk and almost broke into my room, saying he doesn’t fear the virus.

“But my parents kept encouraging and praying for me until Monday when I completed my 14 days of isolation,” Mr Muthuri said.

His seclusion started a day after he left JKIA with his brother.

READ ALSO:   UK PM Boris Johnson tests positive for coronavirus

He believes Kenya has insufficient personnel and ways of dealing with the epidemic.

“Therefore, I made a personal decision not to expose anyone to coronavirus,” he said.

With three other Kenyan students who were on the same flight, they were required to minimise contact with other people and take precautions like washing their hands regularly, wearing masks, avoiding crowded places and minimising the use of public transport.

“Before leaving [China], we were asked to sign a consent form stating that we were in good health and that our temperatures were normal and had no fever,” he said.

The consent form seen by the Nation requires students to undertake protective measures and isolate themselves for two weeks upon returning to their countries.

“International students from Chang’an University should understand and abide by the following contents,” the consent form reads in part.

When Mr Muthuri landed, his brother picked him up at the airport. He shared his masks and sanitisers with him to reduce chances of infection.

Towards the end of his self-isolation, the 28-year-old ran out of masks. He relied on phone calls and text messages whenever he needed something.

“There’s a day I had a normal cold, which made me think that I had contracted the virus. So you can imagine my relief when the cold disappeared after two days,” he said.

READ ALSO:   HEROIC: Meet the Kenyans helping contain Coronavirus in China

When a China Southern Airlines flight landed in Nairobi two weeks ago with 239 people, it triggered outrage among Kenyans, compelling the government to state that passengers would be under self-quarantine.

However, Mr Muthuri said no health official has contacted him to follow-up on his condition. “Apart from my academic supervisor, who is Chinese, no one else has contacted me.”

When he completed his isolation, Mr Muthuri was eager to meet his immediate family and relatives.

“It felt like I was being released from prison. My family held a thanksgiving party for me to thank God for bringing me back home safely.”

For Mr Muthuri, who had been locked up in his hostel room for about two months before flying back home, 14 days was a small sacrifice.

“I was already used to staying locked up so it wasn’t a strange experience for me.

“The only difference is that I was home.”

By Nation.co.ke

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Pilot who saved Kenyans stranded in US to be buried today

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A family in Kitui County gathers today to bury their bread winner, a senior Kenya Airways pilot who paid the ultimate price for his heroic efforts to evacuate Kenyans stranded in coronavirus-hit United States.

Captain Daudi Kimuyu Kibati was in charge of the last flight from New York to Nairobi, which brought Kenyans back home, before the government ban on international flights took effect on Wednesday last week.

He proceeded to self-quarantine upon touching down in Nairobi on Tuesday, March 24, but was taken ill six days later on Sunday, March 29, after testing positive for Covid-19. Captain Kibati, who will be buried in his Mavindini village, Kavisuni location in Kisasi died on April 1, only a week after performing his last international assignment.

His death was announced by Health Cabinet secretary Mutahi Kagwe in his daily press briefing on Thursday, as the second patient to die in Kenya out of coronavirus-related complications.

Before the government suspended all international flights on March 25, Kenya Airways offered a one-way complimentary ticket to Kenyans stranded in New York who wished to get back home before the ban.

New York City was being placed on lockdown on March 23, the same day the last KQ flight was departing from the John F Kennedy Airport.

READ ALSO:   Now KQ halts all flights to China following public outcry over Coronavirus

By then, the death toll in New York had surpassed 1,200 people, and more than 90,000 coronavirus cases had been confirmed in that State.

According to a source at Kenya Airways that requested not to be named, Captain Kibati, who piloted the Dreamliner 787, faced the risky task of evacuating citizens from the city ravaged by the disease under very strict timelines.

The flight had to leave New York City before the lockdown announced by Governor Andrew Cuomo began and arrive in Kenya before the ban on all international flights took effect on March 25.

Captain Kibati, who retired as a major from the Kenya Air Force, put his life on the line and ended up paying the ultimate price. The previous week, he had commanded another return flight from Nairobi to Rome, and back to Nairobi, before being dispatched to New York.

Italy has recorded the highest coronavirus cases in Europe, with the World Health Organization reporting 13,157 deaths and 110,574 confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country as of yesterday.

The pilot, 61, self-quarantined at Ole Sereni hotel, alongside his first officer.

Some of the flight cabin crew were booked at Four Points hotel at the airport.

He tested negative upon arrival in Nairobi and two more times but stayed isolated from his family and friends until the morning of Sunday 29, when he developed a nagging sore throat and fever.

READ ALSO:   Corona struck Italy: No schooling, no exams, stay a metre away from each other

“Our brother tested positive for the coronavirus on the eighth day after undergoing rigorous medical screening in all the capitals he flew to, and three more tests in Nairobi which were negative,” his younger brother Arnold Kibati told the Saturday Nation yesterday.

He said the captain stayed at Nairobi Hospital for only two days before succumbing on Wednesday, throwing his family, relatives and the Kenya Airways fraternity into mourning. The pilot leaves behind a widow, Jane Mwende, and two sons.

One of them, Mr Paul Kibati, is a medical doctor with the Kitui County government.

Dr Kibati has been on the front-line fighting the Covid-19 virus since February by supervising the isolation of dozens of Chinese nationals building the Kitui-Kibwezi road, who returned to Kenya on various dates. He got the shocking news of his dad’s death while on duty at Mutomo Level Four Hospital in Kitui South, where he’s the sub-county medical officer of health.

Governor Charity Ngilu led Kitui residents in mourning Captain Kibati, whom she described as a dedicated public servant.

US-based law scholar Prof Makau Mutua said the management of Kenya Airways was reckless and liable for exposing the pilot to the coronavirus when they failed to shut down flights from Rome and New York — two of the hottest spots for the virus.

READ ALSO:   KQ suspends employee who took video of Chinese plane at JKIA

“The government and KQ put profits over people and ignored the safety of their pilots, crew and passengers. They should bear legal responsibility for the untimely death,” said Prof Mutua, who studied with Captain Kibati at Kitui High School. Mr Evelyne Munyoki, the chief human resources officer at Kenya Airways, mourned Captain Kibati a captain on the 787 Fleet in the operations department.

The Saturday Nation established that the first officer and some of the crew who were under quarantine also tested positive for the virus. Only family members will attend the burial.

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VIDEO: Kenyan woman says “hii Quarantine imetenganisha Mipango ya Kando na Wababa”

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A video of a Kenyan woman appealing to “Wababa” to be more humane during the Corona Lockdown has gone Viral. The unidentified woman says the situation is so dire for mipango ya kando (side chics) that they have no idea what to do.

“Sasa hata hatuwezi piga picha zile tulikuwa tunapost hapo mbeleni,” she says. ‘Hata kuongea kwa simu sasa hatuwezi ongea juu mko na mawife zenu,” she adds.

She appeals to the men to at least send their girlfriends some money minus 30 per cent.

We can’t even post those photos we used to post with the caption: Naivasha Manenos. Hii quarantine siyo kupenda kwetu. What are we supposed to do?” she poses.

Although the video seems to have been meant to be some sort of  comic relief, there is a growing concern among Kenyans over what people who hitherto were fully dependent on others are supposed to do in the face of the Corona Pandemic which has literally stopped most activities around the world. Watch:

READ ALSO:   Kenya won't evacuate students from China
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Health

It started with an itchy throat, a dry cough then fever

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March 13 will remain forever be etched in Wanga Bress’s mind. Her husband came home from work with some bad news. Some people at his workplace had been diagnosed with Covid-19, including his immediate boss who he had interacted closely with.

Through the ministry of health in Germany, they were put on quarantine, to not leave the house unless necessary. It is then that reality hit her.

The news that cases of coronavirus were rising in Germany had been spreading, but she never imagined it would hit her home.  Then her husband started getting coughs. They were not too worried about it since he always gets allergies during winter. They went for a test and returned home with instructions to keep monitoring their temperatures three times each day.The next day, the bad news came.

“He was on phone with the hospital where he had taken the test. l stood across him, looking at him and trying to pick every word they said. I saw how his facial expression changed to that of horror. I knew the results were not good. Then he confirmed to me that he had tested positive to Covid-19. He had it,” says Bress.

Persistant cough

What followed, she says, was a whirlwind of emotions. Her husband was panicking, giving a list of all people he had interacted with so that they could be tracked and tested.

READ ALSO:   US tops world in coronavirus cases

“I started cleaning and disinfecting everywhere in the house. I took care of him. Our living room has good space, so we ensured there was always a two-metre distance between us,” says the resident of Schmallenberg town in North Rhine-Westphalia State .The other symptoms of Covid-19 began in earnest a few days after his diagnosis. His cough persisted, he would get fatigued and his temperature kept rising.

Bress says at that time, she felt it was important for her to take care of him.“I would give him soup and tea at different intervals. One evening l thought of my mum and how she would cover us with a blanket over a bucket of hot water steaming Muarubaini or Vicks to decongest our nostrils or chest. I decided to apply the same treatment to my husband. I used my facial steamer and added in a little bit of Vicks Vaporub. It worked well. He loved it. That night he slept well,” she says.

It is also the same night that Wanga says her temperature started rising and she started feeling sick.

“I had an itchy throat, dry cough, headache and fever,” she says. The next day, her symptoms got worse. She was now shivering and her temperature kept rising. She started getting anxious, since they were the same symptoms she had seen in her husband, and read on news to be what patients of Covid-19 get.

READ ALSO:   Coronavirus: I fear for my life, says KQ whistle-blower

Deserted streets

“I would take asprin, but I was not getting any better,” she says.

She was called in for a test, one she says is extremely uncomfortable.

“Taking a coronavirus test is not pleasant at all. A swab stick is pushed so deep in the throat. I almost threw up. Then the same swab is pushed in one of the nostril,” she says, describing the moment as scary.

The streets of Germany are deserted, and only people with security clearance are allowed in hospitals. The air around is eerily quiet. Patients go in unaccompanied, and unlike the past where sick people go for tests held by their loved ones to assure them that things will get better, coronavirus means going in all alone.

She was not given any medication, as there is none yet. She was told to continue being on quarantine and manage her symptoms. As of Wednesday, she was beginning to feel better and her temperature was getting lower, a sign that her body’s immunity was fighting the virus.

“The condition spreads so fast from one person to another. We were told to only treat the symptoms as they come,” she says.

She records her symptoms every day and ensures she keeps away from her two children who have not shown any symptoms yet. Her experience has awakened her to the fact that coronavirus is real, and it takes just a few interactions to get it.

READ ALSO:   OPINION: How Kenyan Community Churches in US can help stop spread of Corona Virus

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