Concern continues to grow over the rapid spread of the deadly Corona Virus that has to date claimed over 600 lives.
The deaths have risen to 638 with 31, 481 infected people, 4, 824 being in critical condition.
About 1563 people have however recovered from the highly contagious virus.
The Kenya Association of Travel Agents (KATA) through the Chief Executive Officer Ms. Agnes Mucuha urged travellers to exercise extreme caution when travelling to China and to put off non-essential travel until the disease is contained.
‘’KATA travel agents are jointly advising their clients on precautionary measures in line with the directives issued by the government, should travel become necessary as instructed by the Ministry of Health. We care about our clients and choose life, better safe than sorry, “said Ms. Mucuha.
Airlines have also suspended their flights to China indefinitely until the disease is under control in a bid to protect passengers and crew. Kenya Airways announced that starting January 31, they had suspended all flights to and from Guangzhou in China.
The National Carrier further stated that they are working closely with the Ministries of Health and Foreign Affairs and would update as the situation develops. However, they added that flights to Bangkok from Nairobi remain operational.
Qatar Airways through a press statement dated February 1, 2020 also announced that they have cancelled flights to mainland China from February 3 until further notice due to significant operational challenges caused by entry restrictions imposed by several countries.
The airline further announced that a weekly review of operations will be conducted to reinstate the flights as soon as restrictions are lifted.
“As many Qatar Airways crew members have recently travelled to mainland China, these restrictions prevent the airline from scheduling crew on certain routes, limiting our ability to maintain scheduled operations elsewhere. As a result, the airline has no alternative but to unfortunately suspend its flights to mainland China from 3 February,” the statement read.
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “We have been placed in a challenging operational situation where the airline cannot continue with its global operations as a result of these restrictions on anyone who has visited China. If we continue operations, the significant numbers of crew who would have travelled to China, would be limited to operate on certain flights, reducing our operational effectiveness. We will immediately resume our operations to China once the governmental restrictions are lifted.”
Emirates also suspended flights to China. The Dubai based airline is one of the world’s biggest long-haul airlines and flies to mainland China cities Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shanghai.
Major airlines like KLM, Egypt Air, Turkish Airlines, Lufthansa, RwandAir and British Airways have also suspended flights to China.
Ethiopian Airlines have however not cancelled their flights but stated that passengers willing to change their flights can do so free of charge.
According to a report from one of the local dailies, President Uhuru Kenyatta urged the airline to consider stopping direct flights to China in order to help stop a possible spread of the disease.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) identifies the Corona viruses (CoV) as a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.
WHO states that common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
Standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs.
Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.
Our Source: Kenya Association of Travel Agents (KATA)