Kenya halts flights from Italy over coronavirus outbreak

Mombasa airport

The main entrance to Moi International Airport in Mombasa.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Kilifi, Malindi and Watamu are tourist destinations popular with Italians.

  • Over the years, north coast has earned the nickname ‘Little Italy’ because of its high number of Italian residents and tourists.

The government has suspended direct flights from northern Italy over the outbreak of the new coronavirus.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe announced on Tuesday that his team has suspended flights specifically from Verona and Milan to the Kenyan coast, after consultations with the Italian Embassy in Kenya and other stakeholders.

"This part of Italy is currently experiencing coronavirus incidents which could affect the safety of Kenyans," CS Kagwe said in a press release.

Kilifi, Malindi and Watamu are tourist destinations popular with Italians. Over the years, north coast has earned the nickname ''Little Italy'' because of its high number of Italian residents and tourists.

Last Weekend, the Kenya Hotel Keepers and Caterers Association (KHCA) North Coast Chairperson Maureen Awuor, who is also the Ocean Beach Resort general manager, said hoteliers in Malindi risk losing businesses in the coming weeks following the worldwide spread of the deadly coronavirus also known as Covid-19.

Already, some hotels have begun receiving cancellations and postponements of travel dates from Europe, especially from Italy.

The global death toll from the new coronavirus epidemic surpassed 3,000 on Tuesday after dozens more died at its epicentre in China and cases soared around the world with six fatalities on US soil.

The virus has now infected more than 88,000 people and spread to over 60 countries after first emerging in China late last year.

Kenya has moved to restrict travel, saying those coming into the country from Italy, South Korea and Iran will also be required to self-quarantine for 14 days.

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