South African writer Janine Jellars recounted her torrid experience at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi that saw her passport confiscated after she tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival.
Jellars was responding to a Kenyan netizen on Twitter who had recounted witnessing the same scenario having landed in Nairobi from Johannesburg, South Africa on Saturday, December 11.
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She revealed how officials stationed at the airport had tried to take her passport after she recorded a positive COVID-19 result but she refused, terming the move as illegal. Additionally, she alleged that they had attempted to book her into a hotel that she did not choose, denying her the freedom to self-isolate despite having a home in Kenya.
“It’s illegal. They’re trying to book me into a hotel I did not choose. They won’t let me self isolate even though we have a home here. They are refusing to let me keep my passport despite the fact they’ve taken the pertinent details 4 times,” she lamented.
She added that she did not exhibit any COVID-19 symptoms and had tested negative three times that week and stood her ground against the officials who wanted to take her passport.
Jellars narrated that they had claimed that it was protocol, which she termed as illegal.
“They’re not letting me leave the airport if I don’t hand over my passport. My husband is at the airport, he came to make sure I’m ok.
“Apparently this is an issue because it’s Ministry of Health, port health and Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) and they’re holding passports until you can produce a negative test & or end 14-day quarantine,” she added.
She recalled being abandoned in an empty room in the terminal after she refused to hand over her passport. Meanwhile, her husband had spoken to the port health officials who insisted that they hold her passport at the immigration desk until she produced a negative certificate.
“Also the protocols are a mess. They let so-called positive people mix with so-called negative people. They let a family sit with their family member who tested positive and then hug them goodbye.
“I’ve had multiple people come up and speak to me/ hang out. No isolation whatsoever,” she lamented further.
Jellars reached out to the necessary authorities in South Africa who advised her to comply in order to mitigate the situation.
She later got to a quarantined hotel where she questioned the health protocols in place at the facility.
“So I’m in quarantine at a hotel where no one is wearing PPE except a regular mask and they just come knock on your door and hand you meals in your hands (physically). This is all concerning but I suppose I’m safe and ok,” she added, faulting the Ministry of Health over the integrity of the officials at the airport.
“Why do the officials responsible for the airport rapid testing, hotel quarantine process not respect basic COVID protocols? PPE, social distancing etc? The person administering my COVID test was in sandals, jeans & a shirt,” she added further.
Her case has since drawn the anger of Kenyans On Twitter (KOT) fired towards the government. Hours after her story went viral, Kenya was hit with a temporary suspension as flights from Nairobi were locked out of Dubai by its civil aviation authority for a period of two days.
No particular reason was given for the suspension which began on Monday, December 20.