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Kenyan student’s experience in Italy dorm self-quarantine



What does it mean to be self-quarantined? This is my experience as Italy enters its second week of a total lockdown.

On March 9, 2020, the government of Italy under Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte imposed a national quarantine, restricting the movement of the population except for necessity, work, and health circumstances, in response to the growing Covid-19 pandemic in the country.

As a result, schools and institutions of higher learning were not spared as the government moved to secure its citizens and deter spread of the virus.

Since the total lockdown, life has really changed both for the citizenry and visitors, especially students from other countries who study in various Italian universities.

Being a student at the University of Rome Tor Vergata studying MA in Global Governance with specialisation in Global Politics, we have been compelled by our university management to strictly follow university schedules online, do assignments and submit them on time.

Buy masks

I must acknowledge that self-quarantine is very expensive because one is required to be stable in economic, health and mental wellbeing aspects.

It is not easy to wake up every day in your four corners dormitory room and spend the whole day and night there.

Before the lockdown this month, on Saturday February 22 at around 6.15 am, my friends and I had travelled to another city in the south of Italy called Naples for one of my friend’s birthday.

We took the risk and went because earlier we had booked for our trip and paid the cost-related expenses. It was not something we wanted to miss despite news that the virus was already spreading in some parts of Italy, especially in the North.

Prior to the trip, we bought masks to keep ourselves safe since we didn’t have a personal car and we were going to use public transport provided by Flix Bus.

Commuters travel in the underground metro in downtown Milan on March 10. Italy imposed unprecedented national restrictions on its 60 million people on March 10 to control spread of coronavirus. AFP

The trip to the South of Italy was almost two hours long and we had a good time without thinking about Covid-19.

I remember vividly that evening after I returned to our student residence, my mum called me to find out how my day was and I told her that my day went well, we travelled to another city and we just got back.

Restrict movements

My mum paused and changed her tone and at that moment, I knew that something was wrong because after the virus was reported to have gotten to most parts of the country, mum had warned me to restrict my movements.

On this particular day, I had not told her of the planned trip because she would have told me to cancel it. I had been looking forward to explore the city because in the past I had not had time to explore the city and I felt that was a good opportunity to do so.

Fast forward, exactly one month since we had the trip to Naples, a friend from Malawi, who is also my course mate, developed some fever and cold.

Her situation threw panic across the campus, and those of us who had

accompanied her to Naples had more reason to be worried. I quickly recommended that she takes some medicine called Tachipirina because it is one of the drugs one can get at the pharmacies without prescription. In Italy, no pharmacy sells medicine without prescription from a doctor.

However, our friend recovered and we started to share our fears of illness.

On March 2, we went shopping in preparation for a possible lockdown. We bought groceries, fruits and dry foods which we have continued to use to date while quarantined.

Some days before the closure of universities I also had some crucial appointments with the immigration office. Then on March 4 mid- morning, the Italian leadership closed all schools and universities from the next day to March 15, and we were asked to stay home.

The lockdown period was later extended to April 3.

In the early days of the lockdown, it’s likely some people got some directives wrong, such as when the university was closed and for many students it was an opportunity to go partying until when the leadership came out strongly to enforce the lockdown.

I am happy to see how people have embraced self-isolation and the mandatory self-quarantine rules.

As of now, we continue to have lectures online. Since I have been indoors for over two weeks now, I have learned new things and clearly know what I would like to do more after the lockdown.

While on quarantine there were two Iranian students that were suspected to have Covid-19 but after check ups at the hospital this was not the case.

We are dealing with a challenging situation, some people are experiencing fear, desperation and anxiety. The sooner we can get Covid-19 under control, then life can begin to return to normal.

Some lessons that Kenya can learn from Italy: The health care sector in Italy was not prepared for the outbreak, the framework that has been in place for many years was not one that could easily expand to cater for the sick people.

Doctors and nurses in Italy are doing their best but if political systems continue to reduce money meant for health care, many countries will always be unprepared to face such kinds of emergencies.

Grace Sabiri Mageka is an MA Global Governance student specialising in Global Politics, at the University of Rome Tor Vergata in Italy.


• Since the total lockdown, life has really changed both for the Italy citizenry and visitors, especially students from other countries who study in various universities.

• “It is not easy to wake up every day in your four corners dormitory room and spend the whole day and night there” Grace Sabiri Mageka

By People Daily

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Pilot who saved Kenyans stranded in US to be buried today



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.

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.

“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.

“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”



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:

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



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.

“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.

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.

By Standard

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