Kenya: Covid-19 Was in Kenya Earlier Than Reported

Health officials in protective clothes bury the body of Anthony Waswa on May 19.
21 September 2020

The coronavirus was detected in Kenya earlier than stated by the Ministry of Health, the Nation can reveal today.

Despite the first case being reported on March 13, official information from the Health ministry shows that the first person confirmed to have Covid-19 was a 28-year-old French national, who arrived from France aboard an Air France flight 814 on March 4.

Three other people who travelled into the country before Kenya officially announced its first case are also listed in the Health ministry data seen by the Nation.

According to the data, two people, a 31-year-old female who travelled from the United Kingdom and a 57-year-old French National who was diagnosed in Kwale County, arrived in the country on March 9, 2020.

French man

The 31-year-old female who travelled from the UK arrived into the country on KQ flight 101 and was diagnosed in Nairobi while the French man arrived in Nairobi on and flight AF814.

The Health ministry document shows that just a day before Kenya officially announced the first Covid-19 case, a 38-year-old Kenyan man who traveled from Italy to Nairobi on KQ 128 arrived in the country and was said to have the virus. He was, however not admitted in the hospital until March 20, 2020.

There was also the case of two other people, who arrived in the country from Spain via Dubai aboard an EK719 flight.

The arrival date of the 42-year-old female and 44-year male is not written in the Ministry of Health document and there is no evidence of hospitalisation for the two Kenyans.

Genetic sequencing

Kenya reported its first Covid-19 case on March 13, a 27-year-old female who travelled from the United States via the United Kingdom. She sat next to a 48-year-old female who had travelled from the UK and was admitted to hospital a day after travelling into the country.

According to a genetic sequencing of a proportion of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) samples collected from cases that circulated in Kenya between March12 and April 30, there were at least nine separate importations of SARS-CoV-2 into the country.

The report further suggests infections detected and confirmed in March 2020 were largely from virus importation into the country.

The research by Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) Centre for Virus Research (CVR) and Centre for Geographic Medicine Research-Coast (CGMR-C) in collaboration with the National Public Health Laboratory (NPHL) was conducted to understand the variations of the virus that are present in the country.

The research shows that viruses circulating in the country do not differ from viruses circulating elsewhere in the world.

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