Coronavirus: KQ suspends China airlines whistle blower

Wednesday March 18 2020
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A Kenya Airways plane. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By HILARY KIMUYU

Kenya Airways (KQ) has suspended an employee identified as Gire Ali, who filmed and shared a video showing a Southern China Airlines plane with 239 passengers landing at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).

The carrier accuses Mr Ali of poor handling and management of passengers arriving from virus-hit China.

"It has been determined that you be suspended from duty with effect from February 27, 2020 in accordance with provisions of clause 16.5 of the Company HR Policy Manual,” the letter signed by KQ's Chief Human Resources Officer Evelyne Munyoki states.

Mr Ali was to make himself available to an investigating team.

Speaking to the Nation Friday, Mr Ali confirmed the move by the national carrier.

“Yes, it is true, what is trending is true; they have suspended me,” he said.

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This writer reached out to KQ but the airline had not responded to queries by press time.

HOSTILE RECEPTION

Mr Ali's suspension comes after a video clip of Flight CZ 6043 landing at JKIA at 7.29 am to hostile reception that saw medical officials at the airport refuse to screen passengers.

They were not allowed to leave the plane for almost an hour.

According to a source, it took the intervention of senior government officials to resolve the problem.

“All 239 passengers were screened on board, cleared and advised to self-quarantine for the next 14 days,” said the Ministry of Health.

The ministry advised Kenyans against non-essential travel to countries hit by the epidemic.

The World Health Organisation has identified Kenya as among 13 top priority countries that either have direct links or a high volume of travel to China.

The agency said the 13 countries should be prepared for containment, including active surveillance, early detection, isolation and case management, contact tracing and sharing data.

In January, Kenya Airways suspended all its flights to Guangzhou, China.

The national carrier, in a statement, said the move followed the outbreak of coronavirus.

The disease has killed more than 2,800 people and infected over 83,000 worldwide.