The government has vowed to block Kenyan medical practitioners from moving to the United States amid the coronavirus epidemic.
This comes a day after the US government, through the Department of State, Consular Affairs urged foreign medical professionals willing to work in the US to seek visa appointments with their embassies.
"We encourage medical professionals with an approved U.S. non-immigrant or immigrant visa petition (I-129, I-140, or similar) or a certificate of eligibility in an approved exchange visitor programme (DS-2019), particularly those working to treat or mitigate the effects of COVID-19, to review the website of their nearest embassy or consulate for procedures to request a visa appointment,” read a statement posted on the Department’s website and social media pages.
It added: "For those foreign medical professionals already in the United States, J-1 Alien Physicians (medical residents) may consult with their programme sponsor, ECFMG, to extend their programmes in the United States. Generally, a J-1 program for a foreign medical resident can be extended one year at a time for up to seven years".
Speaking during a press briefing on Friday, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said Kenyan medics would only be allowed to go to the US through a government to government initiative and not through individual arrangements. "We will not release any of our doctors and as a matter of fact, we have recalled those on leave to enhance our capacity. This is an international issue and no one is superior or inferior," said Kagwe.
So far the US has confirmed 93,329 cases of coronavirus, the highest globally ahead of Italy (86,489) and China (81,340). 1,384 people have died of the virus in the US.