Rescue us from Wuhan, Kenyans plead with State

By Seth Onyango
Wednesday, February 26th, 2020
Families of Kenyans in China address the press at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs offices in Nairobi, yesterday.

It is 9.45pm and 36-year-old Olivia Njiri, a PhD student at Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China, is preparing to go to bed.

The cold outside and the rustling sound of rain against her hostel remind her of the turbulent past couple of weeks she has endured stuck in the epicentre of the novel coronavirus.

For Njiri, her future in the increasingly ghost yet densely populated city in China is shrouded in uncertainty as she and other Kenyans trapped there wait for a miracle.

Back home in Kenya, her family and friends are latching onto hope that the Chinese government and global efforts to contain the virus that has since killed 2,700 will yield fruits.

Water paucity

Although Njiri appreciates prayers for divine intervention, what she needs most is the government to evacuate her and her compatriots who are trapped in the ‘death hole’.

In a heart-chilling appeal to the Foreign Affairs Ministry and the government, she narrated to People Daily how the situation is getting bleak by the day.

“The supermarket we depended on at school is now closed... we don’t know where to get our supplies. We can’t go... our appeals for help are not heeded by the government,” she said.

She added that the Chinese government has advised them to shop online but that has proven problematic because she and many foreigners need national IDs to do that, which they don’t have.

This comes as her school continues to experience water paucity amid fears that the supply network may be contaminated.  Njiri is among nearly 100 Kenyan students trapped in Wuhuan, which has been hit by the deadly coronavirus.

Yesterday, a man whose six months’ pregnant wife is trapped in Wuhan lamented about the agony at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs offices in Nairobi.

Martin Situma told of how he has not known peace since the viral outbreak was declared in the city where his expectant wife is.

Situma is now worried about the physical and psychological health of his wife.

In Wuhan, the streets are empty synonymous with scenes from Hollywood apocalypse movies, after the Chinese government restricted people from leaving their homes.

Monitor closely

At the same time, the residents are worried about food running out, contracting the virus from other people in the city as well as beating boredom at home.

Photos show how the typically bustling city of 11 million people appears to be a ghost town, and people are seeking support from their balconies and running back into their apartments as they wait for a word on when the spread will abate, or their quarantine will be lifted.

In a recent press statement, the Foreign Affairs ministry said the Kenyan embassy is in touch with the Kenyans who have been affected by the lockdown in the city.

“The embassy is aware that there are 85 Kenyans in Wuhan who are registered with the embassy and is closely monitoring the situation,” the ministry said in a press statement on Monday.

And responding to worries raised by many foreigners, the Chinese government has asked all missions to ask their citizens not to panic as they have established scientific genomes of the virus and they are convinced the virus is controllable and preventable as they have deployed world-class measures.