By CAPITAL REPORTER, NAIROBI, Kenya Jan 31 - Kenya Airways has suspended flights to and from Guangzhou, China over coronavirus fears but will maintain Nairobi-Bangkok route.
"Regarding the current coronavirus outbreak, we have temporarily suspended flight to and from Guangzhou starting Friday 31, January until further notice," the airline said in a statement, "our service between Nairobi and Bangkok remains operational."
The suspension comes three days after the airline flew in a Kenyan student from Guangzhou with symptoms of coronavirus, but tests on him turned negative.
"The results are negative," Health CS Sicily Kariuki told Capital FM News on Friday morning, a day after the samples from the Kenyan student who flew in from China, were sent to South Africa for validation.
The initial tests were conducted at the National Influenza Centre, but the ministry wanted the results validated.
The Kenyan student who had been in Wuhan, the epicentre of the epidemic in China, travelled in from Guangzhou via Kenya Airways and was taken straight to the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) where he was quarantined. His identity has not been made public.
By Friday morning, reports indicated that 213 people had been killed by coronavirus in China, leading to a declaration of a global public health emergency by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Several countries, including the UK and the US have halted flights to and from China, with Italy declaring it has blocked its airspace to China after confirming two cases late Thursday.
On Friday, the Chinese government announced it was sending charter planes to bring citizens from virus-hit Hubei province who are overseas back "as soon as possible".
The foreign ministry said the move is in view of "practical difficulties that Hubei citizens, especially those from Wuhan, have faced overseas", said ministry of foreign affairs spokeswoman Hua Chunying.
China has also advised its citizens to postpone trips abroad and cancelled overseas group tours, while several countries including Germany, Britain and the US have urged their citizens to avoid travel to China.