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Joburg writer stripped of passport and quarantined in Kenya

Janine Jellars is in quarantine in Kenya after testing positive for Covid-19.
Janine Jellars is in quarantine in Kenya after testing positive for Covid-19.
Image: Supplied

A Johannesburg-based writer has lambasted the Kenyan government for confiscating her passport at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).

This after officials advised Janine Jellars she had tested positive for Covid-19.

Jellars said she had three negative results before she travelled. She said she was on the 12.10pm flight from Johannesburg on Sunday. It was delayed by an hour and she eventually landed at 6.30pm. She was forced to hand over her passport after a process she described as an “exhausting mess”.

“We were ushered to an area to do rapid testing [at JKIA] and at around 7.30pm I tested positive,” she said.

“This experience has been upsetting due to the lack of clarity and clear processes from the Kenyan officials. According to them, I had a positive rapid test, but they did not do anything to isolate me or other travellers who had potentially tested positive. We were in close contact with many officials and fellow travellers in transit through the airport.

“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. No isolation whatsoever.”

Jellars, who is now at a hotel in quarantine, said she has no symptoms.

“I had a PCR test on Monday and it was negative. Rapid test on Tuesday, also negative. Another PCR test on Friday — negative.”

She also questioned the protocols at her quarantine hotel.

“Apart from regular mask-wearing, none of the staff I’ve been in contact with [are wearing] PPE. This morning alone I’ve had three face-to-face [masked though] conversations with hotel staff.

“A Covid test was administered this morning and the person was not in PPE,” she said.

Clayson Monyela, spokesperson for SA's department of international relations, said they had connected Jellars with SA's deputy high commissioner in Kenya.

“She’s in a hotel, she’s comfortable,” he said.

Monyela explained: “The government in Kenya has introduced a procedure that if you test positive, you will be in quarantine. What they do, which is unusual, is that they confiscate passports of people who have to undergo quarantine.

“The foreign ministry confirmed this is their procedure. They promised to review this.”

The Kenyan ministry of health's website states that upon arrival at Kenyan points of entry travellers should expect to present their negative Covid-19 PCR test, as well as undergo temperature and symptoms screenings, and be prepared for referral to a quarantine or isolation facility should they not present a valid PCR test certificate or show symptoms of Covid-19.

“A random antigen test may be taken by port health officers, depending on risk evaluation of the country of origin, and if the result is negative, the traveller will be cleared.

“If positive, then a PCR test will be done, and the traveller will be isolated in a government identified isolation facility, at the traveller’s cost.”

Nothing is said about confiscating passports.

TimesLIVE


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