A Kenyan student who arrived from China with flu-like symptoms does not have the deadly coronavirus initial tests indicate, the health ministry announced on Tuesday.
The patient, however, will remain in isolation at the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) as a precautionary measure and to allow further investigations. The ministry said further laboratory tests are being undertaken, with comprehensive results expected to be out by end of Wednesday.
Officials said the 22-year-old student had been in Wuhan, the Chinese city that is the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, before January 20, 2019 but had not contracted the deadly disease.
“On examination, the suspected case was found to be in stable condition with all vital signs with normal ranges. Following admission at the KNH, appropriate specimens have been collected for investigation at the National Influenza Centre," said Health Cabinet Secretary, Sicily Kariuki.
"Information available indicates that he left Wuhan City on January 20 to Zhangjiajie City. He left for Nairobi through Guangzhou, China and Bangkok, Thailand on 27th January 2020 and arrived at JKIA this morning at 0615 hours. The suspected case remains in the isolation facility at KNH while investigations and laboratory tests are undertaken," she said.
The country remains at risk given the number of passengers who jet into the country every day from China. Kenya Airways #ticker:KQ operates two daily non-stop flights between the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi and Guangzhou.
All passengers flying in from China are now required to fill in a travellers' health surveillance form (a manifest) which the ministry says will be used to track people who have been in the Asian country recently.
CS says the government's position remains that citizens refrain from making any unnecessary travels to China joining the long list of countries, including the US, that have warned their citizens from travelling to the worst-hit region, Hubei province, which includes Wuhan.
The “novel” coronavirus has so far been confirmed in 15 countries including the United States, France, Japan, South Korea, Canada and Malaysia. The viral infection has also claimed over 100 lives but no casualties have been reported outside China. About 4,583 cases had been confirmed, the vast majority from mainland China, by the time of going to press.
The Chinese government has so far restricted travel to Hubei province as the place remain on lockdown as the country battles to contain coronavirus now dubbed 2019-nCoV.
Chinese health officials say the incubation period could range from one to 14 days, and the virus is infectious during that time. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated an incubation period of two to 10 days.
December 31: China alerts WHO to several pneumonia cases.
January 1: Wuhan seafood market is shut down.
January 5: Chinese health officials rule out SARS virus.
January 7: New virus identified and named 2019-nCoV.
January 11: First coronavirus death announced in China.
January 13: WHO reports first case outside China in Bangkok, Thailand.
January 23: Wuhan is placed under quarantine and transport is suspended.