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Two medics among several Kenyans stranded in India

Friday July 03 2020
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Dr Rachir and Dr Devika Patel. PHOTOS | COURTESY

By LEON LIDIGU

Two Kenyan doctors, who had travelled to India to visit their family, are stranded after they were forced to give up their seats to the sick on a Kenya Airways flight last week.

The couple, Dr Rachir and Dr Devika Patel, told the Nation that they were among Kenyans in New Delhi, who could not travel because they did not meet the threshold of priority passengers for the limited space on the plane.

“I received news about a repatriation flight, I was excited and immediately booked tickets for my wife, our six-month-old daughter and I, but unfortunately KQ cancelled my reservation at the last minute,” Dr Rachir said.

The couple says they are not bitter with the Kenyan High Commission’s decision to prioritise the sick but are requesting for another round of repatriation.

Two weeks ago, President Uhuru Kenyatta  directed  Sh1 billion from the Universal Health Coverage kitty  be pushed towards the recruitment of additional health workers  so as to aid in tackling  the  pandemic more effectively.

 Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe later confirmed that counties had even submitted their requirements to the national government and the positions have been advertised.

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The two medics say they were unlucky, even as the 232-passnger flight left for home last Thursday.

“I know of someone who came as a tourist but was allowed to go home with the patients,” he said.

Kenya’s High Commissioner to India Willy Bett confirmed that 17 Kenyans, who wanted to travel back home, were ejected from the KQ flight and replaced with patients and their care-givers before the plane took off.

“The issue of offloading was a Kenya Airways issue, ours was just to give them a list of patients, who had been declared fit to fly by their respective doctors,” he said.

Kenya Airways operated a single flight that picked up patients from India at a subsidised rate of Sh 85, 894 for a business class ticket and Sh45,635 for economy.

Linda Mugo, 26, a student who came to India in February 2020 for internship, which ended in April, says Kenyan officials told her she could not fly home.

“They said that the logistics from Odisha (a state located on the eastern coast of India) to Mumbai could not be facilitated because I am the only Kenyan here which is heartbreaking," she says.

She told the Nation that she is running low of money.

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