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Kenya needs to stop panicking and start preparing for coronavirus

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Kenyans are a worried lot. As the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread across the globe, there are increasing questions being raised about the measures - or more accurately, the lack of measures - the government is taking to protect the population.

By the beginning of March, coronavirus infections had been confirmed in at least 55 countries, including three on the African continent - Algeria, Egypt and Nigeria. While so far the continent has been spared a major outbreak, there have been dire predictions of the havoc the virus could wreak. In February, Microsoft founder Bill Gates warned that the coronavirus disease, known as COVID-19 officially, could overwhelm already creaking health systems and claim up to 10 million lives.

Despite numerous false alarms, there is thankfully yet to be a confirmed case of the virus in Kenya. However, a sense of panic has been building, fed largely by a perception that the government has been slow in enacting measures to prevent the virus getting into the country as well as by a dearth of public information on what to expect once its presence has been confirmed. It was not until last week that the country established a National Emergency Response Committee to "prevent, respond to and contain this emerging global threat".

Much of the concern has centred on the continuation of flights arriving from China whose Hubei province is the epicentre of the outbreak. At the end of January, the national carrier, Kenya Airways, reluctantly suspended flights to and from Guangzhou, one of its most lucrative routes, following public pressure, including........

© Al Jazeera