Kenyans rushing home from abroad before the Wednesday deadline that the government has imposed were on Sunday and Monday caught in chaotic scenes as soon as they landed at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
Hundreds were left stranded as the government began enforcing a mandatory quarantine of all persons entering the country as part of measures to curb the spreaf of coronavirus.
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe had announced that those coming into the country beginning Sunday night to Wednesday, March 25 will undergo mandatory quarantine at their own expense.
In a press briefing on the state of the coronavirus in the country on Monday, Mr Kagwe acknowledged the logistical challenges and apologised to all the affected individuals, assuring that everything would be set in order.
“I want at this point to issue an apology to the parents and individuals who have been so inconvenienced since last night. We are aware that we had logistical challenges that we encountered as a result of the speed at which we wanted to move into quarantining individuals,” said Kagwe.
Majority who say they spent hours at JKIA said the officials seemed to be overwhelmed as planes kept landing with more people.
After going through the usual checks at the JKIA, the exit gates were closed and they were informed that they would be put on forced quarantine at city hotels at their own cost.
In videos shared on social media, an airport official was seen talking to the irate passengers who landed in the country. He explains to them the quarantine options recommended by the government.
Do not have money
The options were government installations at Kenya Medical Training College (KMTC) and Kenyatta University (KU), which costs Sh4,000 and Sh5,000; hotel accommodations costs range from Sh9,000 upward, daily.
Some of the irate passengers were seen disputing the prices saying they do not have money to afford those accommodations. It was also reported that some of them have been on transit for days because of multiple flight cancellations.
Let JKIA have a better plan, to avoid congestion and unnecessary crisis. https://t.co/Jv934MnwSV
— henry njuraita (@ndegwanjuraita) March 24, 2020
The official said the government decided to undertake forced quarantines after several people refused to obey a directive to self-isolate for 14 days in wake of the coronavirus.
Travellers were concerned that the situation risked exposing those without the virus to the deadly infectious disease.
I've just landed in Nairobi, apparently to be taken to quarantine by GOK. They aren't telling us anything, not letting us access bathrooms, and slowly but surely we are filling up the space they have left for us #coronaviruskenya
— mel (@MelanieLigale) March 23, 2020
The passengers, who had travelled from different countries, complained that the immigration authorities held over 100 of them in a room, clearly flouting the social distance directive.
Been at the airport (jkia)for over an hour. There is no one to clear us. The stakeholders are holed in a meeting to decide if we should be quarantined at a government facility or self-quarantine from home. pic.twitter.com/HcxSDs3WKu
— Sakayo Wambua (@SakayoWambua) March 22, 2020
Another passenger also complained that while there were already many of them at the waiting bay, more passengers were still joining them after disembarking from other flights.
“We thought that we were to be escorted into our isolation rooms as soon as we landed but I am shocked that we are being mixed together without being directed on the next course of action for hours,” the passenger said.
The passengers were later picked by NYS buses and transported to the Kenya School of Government, to be briefed on their next move.
On Monday, Kenya confirmed one more coronavirus case, bringing the total tally to 16 in the country,