In Summary
  • China has confirmed human-to-human transmission in the outbreak of the SARS-like virus as the number of cases soared and authorities Tuesday said a fourth person had died.

  • The news came as the World Health Organization said it would consider declaring an international public health emergency over the outbreak.

Kenya is at high risk of an outbreak caused by a new virus lurking in China, if travel inflows from the Asian country are anything to go by. The coronavirus has put the world on high alert with countries increasing fever checks at airports amid fears of a bigger outbreak.

With Kenya Airways operating a non-stop flight twice a week between Nairobi and Guangzhou, China’s third-largest city and a key hub of the country’s southern region, the country needs to ramp up measures to block the disease.

Government statistics show that the number of international visitors through all points of entry in 2019 shot up to 2,048,834 compared to 2018, when arrivals were 2,025,206. Neither the Health ministry nor the Kenya Airports Authority has issued an alert.

China has confirmed human-to-human transmission in the outbreak of the SARS-like virus as the number of cases soared and authorities Tuesday said a fourth person had died. The news came as the World Health Organisation said it would consider declaring an international public health emergency over the outbreak.

Coronavirus, which has spread to three other Asian countries and infected more than 200 people in China, has caused alarm because of its genetic similarities to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which killed nearly 650 people across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003. The discovery of human-to-human transmission comes as more than 400 million people are expected to travel domestically and internationally this week to celebrate the Lunar New Year with relatives.

Enhanced screening measures including fever checks have been set up at airports in Australia, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Nepal, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan and the United States, with particular attention on arrivals from the central Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak.

Health authorities there, where a seafood market has been identified as the centre of the outbreak, said Tuesday that an 89-year-old man became the fourth person to die from the virus and that 15 medical staff had been infected. A second case was also confirmed in Shanghai on Tuesday, while five people have been diagnosed with the illness in Beijing.

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