Kenya's temperature may not protect it from the deadly coronavirus after an infected Chinese worker reportedly snuck into the country.
The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak is on the verge of being declared a global pandemic as new infections explode around the globe. So far, more than 80,000 people have become infected with over 2,700 fatalities. While most of the epidemic is still confined to mainland China, the caseload outside the country is soaring.
So far, Sub Saharan Africa has escaped the crisis completely unscathed. This raises a disturbing question: Could the deadly Wuhan coronavirus be spreading undetected in Africa? While isolated, tropical nations like Nigeria may be too hot for the coronavirus to spread, temperate climates like Kenya may be the perfect breeding grounds for the deadly infection.
China Southern Airlines will be resuming direct flights to Kenya Tuesday. If unconfirmed reports are to believed, a coronavirus patient may have already snuck into the country.
Evidence suggests that weather may play an important role in the spread of coronavirus and similar respiratory illnesses.
These diseases tend to spread best in cold weather and low humidity which is why the flu season in the northern hemisphere occurs during winter months. Scientists have found that warm, humid weather slows coronavirus by impeding its airborne droplets and rendering the virus unstable on surfaces
During the SARS coronavirus epidemic in 2003, the number of confirmed cases declined by 3.6% for every 1 degree Celsius rise in Hong Kong’s temperature. The SARS coronavirus outbreak lasted for eight months – peaking in April but vanishing by July when the weather became too hot for the virus to thrive.
While Covid-19 is different from SARS, warm weather may have a similar effect on the novel disease. Nevertheless, some African countries, like Kenya, are cold enough for the Covid-19 to take root.
Extremely hot temperatures may make it impossible for Covid-19 to take root in tropical African countries like Nigeria or Ghana.
But data suggest the virus could easily spread in Kenya.
The temperature in Nairobi, Kenya is 67 degrees Fahrenheit as of 11:00 p.m Monday. In comparison, the temperature in Hong Kong is 64 degrees Fahrenheit, and the temperature in Singapore is 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Hong Kong and Singapore have 79 and 89 confirmed Covid-19 cases respectively.
Kenya’s climate is similar to climates that have significant coronavirus outbreaks, and the country hasn’t performed extensive testing for the disease. So far, Kenya has only tested 13 people for Covid-19 (all of whom tested negative).
Thirteen tests simply aren’t enough, especially considering Covid-19’s unique characteristics.
New reports suggest coronavirus may be asymptomatic for as long as 27 days. This means people can be infected and contagious for almost an entire month without showing any symptoms.
China Southern Airlines (NYSE: ZNH) is expected to resume direct flights from China to Nairobi on Tuesday.
We are only suspending the flights from 11th to 24th to resume thereafter. We have already communicated with our customers
The direct flights will be from Changsha, Hunan province – a central Chinese province with 1,016 confirmed coronavirus infections – and Guangzhou, Guangdong province, which has 1,345 confirmed infections and six fatalities.
The resumption of flights from China may provide an opportunity for Chinese citizens to escape their country and unintentionally bring Coronavirus into Kenya.
Kenya’s weak and corrupt government seems to lack the political willpower to ban flights from China. They don’t want to offend an important trade partner – this is even as Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta whines about the weak healthcare system his government should have fixed long ago.
According to unconfirmed reports, infected Chinese nationals are already sneaking into Kenya. The country has a large Chinese diaspora working on railroads and other infrastructure projects.
The Chinese allegedly bribed officials from Kenya’s Ministry of Health to allow them to bring a symptomatic and untested worker from Wuhan, China into the country.
The man works for Sinohydro and he is reportedly quarantined near a road project in Kitui county Kenya.
In what looks like an almost unbelievable display of incompetence and political weakness in Kenya, the Chinese workers are reportedly preventing Kenyan police and medics from having access to the patient to test him for the coronavirus.
Richard Muthoka, the Officer for Health in Kitui County, states the following:
Our medical team wasn’t allowed to access the Chinese camp in Mutomo but we have taken the necessary measures to swiftly establish what is happening and ensure all people working and mingling with the foreigners are safe
Kenya’s problem with corruption and political weakness is not limited to its president, Kenyatta Uhuru.
The culture of corruption may infect Kenya’s entire society. This includes the country’s customs officials and the Ministry of Health. The unbelievable levels of corruption will make it impossible for Kenya to deal with the coronavirus outbreak – or modern challenges in general.
With Kenyan authorities unwilling to ban travel from China and seemingly incapable of controlling the behavior of Chinese nationals within the country, it may be only a matter of time before coronavirus cases explode in the African nation.
China Southern will resume direct flights from mainland China tomorrow. This could be the event that turns Covid-19 into a global pandemic as Kenya’s corruption allows the disease to spread all over Africa and the rest of the world.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of CCN.com.
This article was edited by Sam Bourgi.