Latest developments on the Coronavirus in Africa

The African Union has requested African countries not to prevent their citizens from returning home. The first confirmation of the coronavirus internationally was reported on January 7. Ever since, the virus has found its way into several countries in Asia, Europe, and the United States.

The World Health Organization convened an emergency meeting and classified the virus as an international public health emergency. Tedros Ghebereyesus, the WHO chief, expressed a withdrawn optimism on the capability of China to curb its spread in certain parts. However, he pointed out the modern infrastructure and capacity of Chinese medical institutions to detect and control its spread.  

Most African governments have initiated stringent screening measures at airports and other ports of entry. So far Ethiopia, Kenya, Botswana, and Ivory Coast, are the only countries that have recorded Corona-like scares at their airports. Botswana has yet to clear their suspected patients and is closely monitoring their situation. The scares forced most African governments to cancel all China-scheduled flights, with the exception of Ethiopian airlines.

Coronavirus is regarded as a family of viruses ranging from the common cold to MERS. MERS stands for Middle East respiratory Syndrome and SARS. So far, here are the latest developments with regard to the African continent.

  • Africa ADC urges governments to allow entry of their citizens back home;
  • Ethiopia quarantines any passenger flying from Wuhan;
  • The two suspected cases in Ghana that caused are scare are rendered negative;
  • Kenya seeking to repatriate students in Wuhan;
  • The Chinese embassy in Kenya working closely with the Kenyan mission in China to remedy the stranded student’s situation;
  • The first infection of an African person happens in China;
  • Air Tanzania abandons China route;
  • Suspected case in Ethiopia turns out negative;
  • Suspected case in Ivory Coast turns out negative;
  • Mozambique suspends visa-on-arrival for China travelers;
  • Ethiopia isolates four passengers that look suspect.

The ADC, Africa Center for Disease Control, has urged members to allow their citizens to return home. Countries like Uganda and Kenya have remained adamant over calls to bring back their citizens. Prompting public pressure, Kenya announced it would bring back its citizens stranded in Wuhan, 200 of whom are students.

Given the limited capacities of African countries to deal with a contagious infection of such magnitude, it would overwhelm their economies if the virus were to land in the continent. It is, for this reason, that most countries are bolstering their screening efforts at the airports and points of entry to prevent any infection from slipping through unnoticed.