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Covid-19: Kenyans stranded in India since March finally arrive home

Kenyans who were caught up in the Covid-19 lockdown in India started arriving home on Thursday.

The first group landed at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in a chartered Kenya Airways flight from Mumbai, India on Thursday night.

The 223 travellers, who had selected their quarantine centres before starting their journey, presented their coronavirus clearance certificates at the airport.

The passengers had to be screened as they boarded KQ flight 205 from Mumbai destined for Nairobi and also at the airport before being sent into quarantine.

The KQ flight from Mumbai was overbooked as Kenyans jostled to return home.

Kenya’s High Commissioner in New Delhi, Willy Bett, said the plane left India on Thursday at 5.15pm local time.

Last week, the mission struck a deal with Kenya Airways to fly home some 223 people caught up in India’s 21-day total lockdown, which was extended to May 17.

In a notice, Bett said the mission had been informed by KQ that some Kenyans who went to India for treatment and their caregivers may have missed seats on the flight.

About 300 people, including tourists, had booked to fly to Nairobi.

India is a popular destination for Kenyans seeking medical treatment, but the lockdown saw many stranded there and their flights cancelled.

The programme has attracted other Kenyans, including those who had travelled as tourists, for business or to see relatives but got caught up in the lockdown.

The government said that upon arrival in Nairobi, all passengers would undergo mandatory quarantine of 14-28 days at their own cost as per Covid-19 guidelines.

On Wednesday, the government said it would bear the cost of targeted testing and quarantine but they did not clarify if those arriving from abroad will also benefit.

Before the first case, Kenya had on March 3 suspended flights from northern Italy with pasengers arriving from South Korea and Iran ordered to self-quarantine for 14 days.

However, the government stopped all international flights from March 25 after the country confirmed more cases.

Kenya had registered 607 cases, 197 recoveries and 29 deaths by Thursday, while globally, the cases had hit over 3.8 million with more than 270,000 deaths recorded against 1.28 million recoveries.

India had confirmed 56,342 cases, 16,540 recoveries and 1,886 deaths by Thursday.