The coronavirus was confirmed in the Chinese city of Wuhan on January 7, 2020. Cases have since been confirmed in several other Asian countries, Europe and the United States.
The World Health Organisation, WHO, has since declared it a public health emergency of international dimensions. WHO chief Tedros Ghebereyesus said whiles China had a robust health system to detect and control, his outfit remained concerned about the virus entering country’s with weak systems.
Almost all African governments have publicly put in place strict screening at points of entry especially airports. Ivory Coast, Kenya, Ethiopia and Botswana have recorded suspected cases. All except Botswana have reported that the tests were negative. African airlines have cancelled scheduled flights to China except for Ethiopian Airlines.
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that range from the common cold to MERS coronavirus, which is Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus and SARS, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus.
In this article, we will share the latest developments as authorities implement measures to contain the spread of the virus, especially on the African continent.
- Egypt confirms second coronavirus case
- Algeria confirms two more coronavirus cases
- Kenya suspends all flights from China
- Nigeria records first case
- 2 South Africans test positive in Japan
- South Africa to expatriate citizens
- Chinese airline resumes flights to Kenya
- Uganda, Kenya defend stance on evacuations
- Kenya to send upkeep to students in Wuhan
- Zimbabwean woman tests negative
- Rwanda’s health minister fired
- Chinese national quarantined in Kenya
- West African countries collaborate
- Egypt records Africa’s first case
- Uganda to send financial assistance to stranded students
- Chinese doctor in Liberia offers help
- South African company to export face masks to China
- Africa’s response capacity boosted by WHO
- Ethiopian defends stance on flying to China
- Africa ADC asks countries to allow citizens return home
- Ethiopia to quarantine all Wuhan entrants
- Ghana records negative outcome for two suspected cases
- Kenya to repatriate its students from Chinese city of Wuhan
- Chinese embassy in Kenya issues orders
- Africa’s first infection happens in China
- African trio record cases, Air Tanzania ditches China route
- Kenyan records new case, Nigeria ‘battle ready’
- African airlines suspend flights to China
- Ethiopia suspected cases test negative
- Ethiopian Airlines denies reports of suspending flights
- Ivory Coast’s suspected case tests negative
- Mozambique suspends visa-on-arrival for travelers from China
- Ethiopia isolates four suspected cases
- Kenya rushes suspected case to hospital
- Ivory Coast conducts first tests on African continent
Egypt confirms second coronavirus case
Egypt on Sunday confirmed a second case of the coronavirus, announcing that a foreigner, whose nationality was not announced, had tested positive.
The patient was being treated in an isolation facility, according to the health ministry, which also said it was enforcing strict preventive measures for people who came into contact with this new patient.
This is the second confirmed case in the country. The first coronavirus patient, who was announced last month, has reportedly recovered.
Qatar has banned travellers from Egypt to prevent the spread of the virus, following reports that recently confirmed cases in France, the US and Canada involve people who travelled to Egypt.
Algeria confirms two more coronavirus cases
Algeria on Sunday confirmed two new cases of coronavirus infections, in a 53-year-old woman and her 24-year-old daughter.
The victims have been placed in isolation in Blida province south of the capital, Algiers, according to the health ministry, adding that the pair had hosted a man and his daughter from France who tested positive for coronavirus after their return.
Algeria now has three confirmed cases of the coronavirus. The country’s first case was confirmed last week in an Italian national, who was subsequently deported to Italy.
Kenya suspends all flights from China
Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday issued a directive on the coronavirus, that included setting up a 21-member task force and the completion of an isolation centre at Mbagathi Hospital in Nairobi within seven days.
“Kenya is a major international transport hub, with 70 per cent of international passengers in transit, and there is a significant threat arising from the spread of the coronavirus to Kenya from countries that have new and ongoing outbreaks of the pneumatic disease,” the Head of State said in his Executive Order Number 2 of 2020.
The President also ordered for the identification and preparation of isolation and treatment facilities in all Level Five and referral hospitals across the country to be concluded by March 15, 2020.
The National Emergency Response Committee led by the health minister has different cabinet secretaries including those in charge of Defence, Transport, Foreign Affairs, and Information Communication.
It would also have directors-general of Medical Services, the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority and Kenya Airports Authority, in addition to the Director of Immigration.
Earlier, a court had suspended flights between Kenya and China and ordered the state to prepare a plan to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The court ruling followed Wednesday’s resumption of flights by China Southern Airlines flights on the Guangzhou-Changsha-Nairobi route.
The Law Society of Kenya had filed a case asking the court to suspend flights again.
Justice James Makau suspended the flights for 10 days and ordered the state to prepare a “contingency plan on the prevention, surveillance and response to coronavirus”.
The team put in place by the president will also formulate, enforce and review processes and requirements for entry into Kenya of any persons suspected to have travelled to a coronavirus infested area.
Nigeria confirms first case in Sub-Saharan Africa
Nigerian authorities on Friday reported the first confirmed case of the new coronavirus in sub-Saharan Africa as the outbreak spread to a region with some of the world’s weakest health systems.
The health commissioner for Lagos, Africa’s largest city with more than 20 million people, said an Italian citizen who entered Nigeria on Tuesday from Milan on a business trip fell ill the next day. Commissioner Akin Abayomi said the man was clinically stable with no serious symptoms.
Abayomi said officials were working to identify all of the man’s contacts since he arrived in Nigeria. Lagos state early this month advised people arriving from virus-affected areas to observe 14 days of self-quarantine while monitoring for any symptoms.
Nigerian health officials have been strengthening measures to ensure that any outbreak in Lagos is contained quickly, Abayomi said in a statement. He urged Lagos residents to take measures such as keeping their distance from people who are coughing and washing their hands regularly.
Cases of the virus were confirmed in Egypt and Algeria in north Africa in recent days. Until then, some global health experts had expressed surprise that no cases had been reported in Africa.
Nigeria is one of 13 African countries that WHO classified as high priority in this outbreak because of direct links to China or a high number of visitors from there.
The country was praised for quickly containing cases when the Ebola outbreak reached there in 2014 after an infected man from Liberia landed in Lagos. Nineteen people were infected and seven died, but officials were praised for effective public awareness campaigns and strong leadership.
“We have worked very hard to strengthen our systems in preparedness for this outbreak,” the director of the Nigeria Center for Disease Control, Chikwe Ihekweazu, tweeted.
“The Ebola outbreak taught us a lot of lessons,” Ihekweazu wrote in a commentary for The Conversation last month. As of December, all 36 of Nigeria’s states had a rapid response team in case of a disease outbreak, he wrote, and 22 states had emergency operations centers to better coordinate a response.
Nigeria is also currently dealing with an outbreak of Lassa fever, an indication of the health challenges that many African nations face.
With the new virus case announced in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country with 190 million people and numerous air links around the continent and beyond, other nations warned of possible spread.
“Given these recent developments globally and in Africa, it is not unlikely that we will have importation of COVID-19 to South Africa,” that country’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases said Friday.
2 South Africans in Japan have the virus
Separately, South Africa said two citizens who had been working on the Princess Diamond cruise ship have the virus and will stay in Japan for treatment.
South Africa said it was informed by Japanese authorities on Tuesday after the quarantine on the ship had ended. The two were among 12 South Africans on the crew.
In a separate statement Thursday night, South Africa said it planned to evacuate more than 130 citizens from China’s Wuhan city where the outbreak began. It did not say when that would happen.
This is the first major country in sub-Saharan Africa to evacuate its citizens, while thousands of African students remain stranded and several governments say it’s safer to stay in place and not risk spreading the virus back home.
South Africa to expatriate citizens
South Africa’s president on Thursday ordered for the repatriation of its citizens from the Chinese city of Wuhan.
“It is estimated that there are 199 South Africans citizens in Wuhan as per the latest consolidated list from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation. At this stage, 132 of them have expressed the desire to be repatriated,’‘ Ramaphosa said in a statement.
The president said the government is in touch with their families and has made necessary travel arrangements.
“None of the affected individuals has been diagnosed with the virus nor have they exhibited any symptoms thereof. Upon arrival in South Africa, they will be placed in quarantine for 21 days as an additional precautionary measure.”
Chinese airline resumes flights to Kenya
Kenyan authorities on Wednesday confirmed that China Southern Airlines had resumed flights from Guangzhou to Nairobi, triggering an outcry from panicked citizens.
Kenyans quickly took to social media to criticise the government for allowing planes carrying Chinese expatriates, workers and traders to land at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) while at the same time refusing to evacuate Kenyans from China.
On Thursday, Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo said there was no need to worry about the flights from China, adding that guidelines by the World Health Organisation were adhered to in clearing the passengers.
The ministry however also issued a travel advisory to all Kenyans against visiting countries with mass infections.
“Kenyans are advised against non-essential travel to countries experiencing the outbreak. This is in view of the expanding geographical
of the outbreak across the world,” it said in a statement.
Kenyans have been asked to maintain hygiene and avoid contact with persons exhibiting symptoms such as fever, coughs, difficulty breathing and sneezing.
The Chinese have on the other hand been asked to self-quarantine for 14 days.
February 25, 2020: Algeria records first case
Algeria’s Health Ministry on Tuesday confirmed the first case of coronavirus in the North African country.
Health Minister Abdel Rahman Ben Bouzid said the patient, an Italian who arrived in the country on 17 February, had immediately been placed in isolation.
Algeria becomes the second African country with a confirmed case of coronavirus after Egypt.
The circumstances of his infection have not been established.
The Ministry of Health has assured that it has “strengthened the prevention system around the confirmed case, and the surveillance and monitoring system at all points of entry” in Algeria.
The coronavirus which broke out in China in December 2019 has resulted in 77,000 confirmed cases and 2,600 deaths, according to the WHO.
The epidemic has already been reported in about 30 countries outside China, where it has killed more than 40 people with 2,500 reported cases.
The coronavirus outbreak has forced some sporting activities to be either postponed or cancelled completely.
February 24, 2020: Mauritius blocks Italian passengers
Authorities in Mauritius are not taking chances, telling passengers from Northern Italian regions affected by the coronavirus that they would have to go into quarantine.
The Alitalia plane landed in Mauritius on Monday with 224 passengers but up to 40 passengers from from the northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto returned home rather than go into quarantine, Alitalia said.
The airline said they had not been notified by the Mauritian authorities before landing, adding that ‘nobody declared symptoms of illness.’
Italy is struggling to contain the coronavirus outbreak that has so far claimed the lives of 6 people out of more than 200 cases recorded. 11 towns in the northern part of the country are under lockdown.
Churches, schools, fashion events and football matches have been affected by the changes.
Tunisia’s Transport Minister Rene Trabelsi said on Monday the country may suspend some flights to Italy to reduce its exposure to the coronavirus.
No evacuation; Kenya, Uganda insist
Authorities in Uganda and Kenya have reiterated their call to citizens in China to stay put, insisting that the Chinese are better placed to handle the new coronavirus.
‘‘In efforts to minimise transmission of the virus, the safest place for the students to be is Wuhan which is in lock down,’‘ said Cyrus Oguna, Kenya government’s spokesperson.
Oguna says the government will ‘objectively’ the question of whether to eventually evacuate the 100 Kenyans in China.
“We’re a responsible government that looks at things from a rational perspective and not emotive. Let’s address issues from an objective perspective,” Oguna is quoted as saying by the Daily Nation.
Meanwhile, Uganda’s health minister Robinah Nabbanja issued a travel advisory asking Ugandans to resist the urge to travel ‘to and from’ Kenya.
‘‘We are asking those people who are still in China to stay there until the situation improves. We are also asking Ugandans and Chinese here in the country to stay here,’‘ Nabbanja said.
Both countries have resorted to send financial upkeep to their citizens stranded in Wuhan.
Kenya to send money to students in Wuhan
Kenya’s government on Thursday said it would send Ksh1.3 million ($13,000) to students stranded in the Chinese city of Wuhan, that is the epicentre of the Covid-19 virus epidemic.
The government spokesperson Cyrus Oguna said there are 100 Kenyans currently living in the Chinese city, with 91 of these being students while nine are artists.
“We are aware there are two expectant Kenyans…they’ve been receiving medical services. They have necessary support and are in good health,” Oguna said in a briefing on Thursday.
Ksh500,000 ($5,000) worth of provisions from the Chinese government is also being processed.
Kenyans in China have been appealing for help, asking the government to evacuate them as they are ‘locked down’ and ‘unable to procure groceries’.
Meanwhile, a Chinese student who had been isolated in Kitui County, as a suspected case of the Coronavirus has tested negative.
The man who works as an accountant with the China state-owned Sino Hydro Construction Company will remain isolated for two weeks.
“The Chinese man has been examined by our medical staff and he tested negative to the basic symptoms of coronavirus,” Kitui County Chief Officer for Health Dr Richard Muthoka told journalists adding that the man will also be wearing a face mask at all times.
February 20, 2020: Suspected case in Zimbabwe tests negative
Authorities in Zimbabwe on Thursday announced that results of the woman suspected to have contracted the coronavirus had turned out negative.
The 27-year-old woman who travelled from China to Zimbabwe had been isolated on Tuesday.
Harare’s director for health services, Prosper Chonzi said the woman worked as a teacher in Wuhan, the epicenter of the Coronavirus, but had been on holiday in the city of Guangzhou where she became unwell, displaying symptoms of coronavirus.
She was tested in China and given a certificate showing her results were negative, but authorities in Zimbabwe isolated her as a precautionary measure.
Having been isolated at the Harare’s Wilkins Hospital where her temperature was continuously monitored, tests done at the nearby Sally Mugabe Central Clinic returned negative results.
“Our scientists managed to test the traveller and confirmed her to be negative for COVID-19 like what the authorities in China had also confirmed,” Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo said.
“So, we can still guarantee the nation that there is no Coronavirus in Zimbabwe. We will, however, as per protocol, continue to monitor this candidate for the 21-day prescribed period.’‘
“Our protocol continues to be stringent and protective of our nation and to further strengthen our surveillance. We are now following a scientific approach requiring all travellers coming from China to be screened and quarantined for 14 days in China and if they are found to be safe they will be issued with a clearance certificate to travel.
“When they come to Zimbabwe, they will still be subjected to a further 21-day self-quarantine.”
African countries at high risk: study
A study by the Lancet medical journal suggested that Egypt, Algeria and South Africa are at high risk of suffering from the deadly coronavirus because of higher levels of travel and trade with China, where the COVID-19 virus first arose.
“African countries have recently strengthened their preparedness to manage importations of COVID-19 cases,” said study author Dr Vittoria Colizza, of France’s Sorbonne university.
These include temperature screening at ports of entry, recommendations to avoid travel to China and improved health information provided to health professionals and the general public.
However, she said “some countries remain ill-equipped” to deal with the threat and more needed to be done with surveillance and rapid identification of suspected cases, patient isolation and contact tracing.
While almost three-quarters of African countries have an influenza pandemic preparedness plan, most are outdated and considered inadequate.
“Crisis management plans should be ready in each African country, and involvement of the international community should catalyse such preparedness,” said Colizza.
Fortunately, Egypt, Algeria and South Africa have “the most prepared health systems in the continent”, the report found.
The study suggested other countries, among them Nigeria, Ethiopia, Sudan, Angola, Tanzania, Ghana and Kenya, would all need support with detecting and handling imported cases of the coronavirus.
The new findings are from a modelling study estimating the preparedness and vulnerability of African countries, as well as their likelihood of importing COVID-19 cases from China.
Algeria, Ethiopia, South Africa and Nigeria were included in the 13 top priority countries identified by the World Health Organization (WHO), based on their direct links and volume of travel to China.
China is Africa´s leading commercial partner with high volumes of travel between the two locations.
Coronavirus victim in Egypt recovers
The World Health Organisation says the person who had been diagnosed with Coronavirus in Egypt is no longer carrying the virus, and is well on his way to recovery.
WHO spokesman Tarik Jašarević however said the person would remain in quarantine until the 14-day period was over and would undergo further tests to ensure he had fully recuperated.
Egypt’s health ministry had described the person as a foreigner without revealing their nationality. This was the first confirmed case of Coronavirus on the African continent.
Rwanda health minister fired
Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame on Sunday revealed how the country’s health minister had been fired over mishandling of coronavirus testing kits.
In a stinging rebuke on his ministers, Kagame accused several of them including the ex-health minister Diane Gashumba of lying, carelessness and indiscipline.
Kagame, who was speaking at the National Leaders’ Retreat said Gashumba lied to him about the availability of kits to test individuals for the deadly Coronavirus, Covid-19.
“One morning, I called one of the leaders and the Prime Minister about the Coronavirus and asked that they examine each one of us ahead of the Leader’s Retreat. I told them to tell the minister of health to ensure this.’‘
“She responded that we have 3,500 kits, and that using 400 of them to test leaders would seriously deplete the number of kits we have. The person I sent told her that the message is an instruction, and that if she has objections she should call me.
“Later we discovered that we do not have the kits as she said. We have kits for only 95 people and not 3,500. I asked her about this and she started giving excuses in a long story. You leaders, you cannot even speak the truth; how do you expect to solve problems?” President Kagame said.
The prime minister’s office on Friday said it had relieved Gashumba of her duties following ‘a series of habitual gross errors and repeated leadership failures’. Gashumba had been health minister since 2016.
Chinese national quarantined in Kenya
Authorities in Kenya are on high alert after a Chinese national after an alarm was raised by his workers at the state-owned Chinese engineering company Sinohydro Corporation, saying a Chinese national had been quarantined as a precautionary measure.
The local Daily Nation newspaper said the man has been isolated at the Mutomo campsite in Kitui county and is being served food through the window. He is part of a crew constructing a road north-east of Kenya’s capital Nairobi.
While there is no indication that the unnamed man, who returned from China’s north-eastern Hubei province on Sunday, has contracted the coronavirus, authorities say they were initially denied access to the suspected case.
“Our medical team wasn’t allowed to access the Chinese camp in Mutomo but we have taken the necessary measures to swiftly establish what is happening and ensure all people working and mingling with the foreigners are safe,” Kitui County Chief Officer for Health Richard Muthoka said.
Muthoka said police had been notified to compel the Chinese to allow health authorities access to the site. Authorities in Kenya previously issued a directive that all travelers from China are isolated for at least 14 days.
“Even if these people have been tested at the point of entry, we can’t afford to take chances. The locals are worried because they are mingling with the Chinese coming from regions with coronavirus outbreak,” Kitui South MP Rachael Nyamai said.
Workers at the site say the isolated man is one of 18 Chinese nationals who arrived in the country last week.
The firm’s project manager, Zheng Fuchun, has said “any symptoms similar [to coronavirus] or abnormal situation will be reported to county health office and the Chinese Embassy immediately following the right procedures”.
Three African countries testing suspected cases
Three African countries are testing suspected cases as at February 15, according to the African Union’s Center for Disease Control, CDC.
The three are: The Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon and Eswatini. The CDC along with WHO Africa region has in the past weeks boosted the testing capabilities of a number of countries.
The only confirmed case in Africa remains in Egypt where a 33-year-old foreigner was detected as having the COVID-19 virus despite not showing any signs.
The CDC head said in a statement that: “The 17 contacts of the patient have tested negative, and all of them are under home isolation for 14 days. They are being followed up by the Ministry of Health and Population.
“Africa CDC is working closely with the WHO and other partners to ensure that the diagnostic tools needed by Egypt are available and that they take the right actions to contain the outbreak as quickly as possible,” the statement added.
West African countries collaborate
West African health ministers on Friday resolved to strengthen cooperation amongst their countries to deal with the new coronavirus.
The ministers of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) met in the Malian capital with the stated objective of “strengthening the capacities of national and regional entities in the region in the surveillance, prevention and early detection of epidemics” due to the new coronavirus.
While Egypt on Africa confirmed the first case on the African continent; no cases have been confirmed in ECOWAS. The shortcomings of the health systems in Africa are a concern and experts worry about the consequences that could arise from the emergence of the virus in sub-Saharan Africa.
“Today, we have no confirmed cases in the ECOWAS region. But with 380 million people in our sub-region, we don’t even have three laboratories that can take cases effectively,” Malian minister Michel Hamala Sidibé told AFP after the meeting.
During the meeting it was decided to “strengthen cross-border coordination”, as well as vigilance with regard to travellers from China, he said without further details.
February 14, 2020: Egypt records Africa’s first case
Egypt has recorded what is Africa’s first first case of coronavirus (COVID-19), Reuters news agency has reported quoting state television.
The health ministry said the person affected was a foreigner. Their nationality was not disclosed but that they had been identified based on travel patterns.
Africa till now had ‘escaped’ the virus which has so far led to the death of over 1,300 people since the outbreak began in China in January. It is the first time that the virus has entered a new country since February 4.
February 13, 2020: Uganda to bailout students
Uganda’s foreign ministry plans to send $61,000 (UGX 222m) to students who are confined in the city of Wuhan, ruling out the option of evacuation.
“A total of 65 are known government sponsored students while 40 are on private sponsorship. Our mission in Beijing is in contact with these students on a daily basis. They created a WhatsApp group called Wechat which enables them to chat. The officer designated to follow them up is Amb Philip Kanyoonzi,” Ruth Aceng, the health minister said in a statement.
The health minister told parliament that Uganda does not have specialised knowledge to deal with the coronavirus, and would therefore not evacuate the students.
‘‘It is safe to keep those persons in Wuhan city there because the city is under lock down. Uganda does not have specialised capacity to handle coronavirus. The country is already stressed with outbreaks,’‘ Aceng said.
Aceng added that government had failed to charter a plane to airlift the students from Wuhan and bring home an estimated 105 students stranded in Wuhan.
Some of the students in China have asked government to evacuate them, adding that they were running out of money, food and protective face masks. They have been running a social media campaign under the hashtag #EvacuateUgandansInWuhan.
In the meantime, the government has asked at least 265 travellers from China, including 10 students to self-isolate for two weeks after they returned from China.
Chinese doctor in Liberia exports face masks to Wuhan
Reports of face mask shortages across China has been in the news recently as people struggled to avoid contamination with the coronavirus, now officially known as the COVID-19.
A recent report said a South African company was in the process of exporting 20 million face masks to help with the shortage in mainland China where the virus has claimed over 1,000 lives.
Over in Liberia, a Chinese doctor is sending a donation of 7,000 nose masks and 600 pieces of protective clothing to Wuhan – epicenter of the virus.
Dr Zhai Yu, 46, told the BBC Africa reporter that she and her staff were loading the equipment into a vehicle for shipment to China.
The doctor said she imported the medical gear six years ago to equip her clinic in the wake of the Ebola outbreak in the West African country, which has poor health services, the BBC report said.
She is now donating them “because our people in China have suffered too much; they are between life and death. Being Chinese overseas we want to try our best to do something for our homeland,” she said. “It’s our duty. We must do that.”
Ethiopian Airlines explains stance on China routes
Ethiopian Airlines Chief Executive Officer Tewolde Gebremariam has defended the company’s decision to maintain flights to China, arguing that suspending flights to the country would not end the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.
Ethiopian Airlines operates 35 weekly flights to five destinations in China, and Ethiopian on average transports 4,000 Chinese between China and Africa daily. Ethiopian serves Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Chengdu.
“As WHO clearly stated that suspending flights to China would not end the coronavirus outbreak as victims of the virus are located in other countries,” Tewolde told The Reporter.
‘‘If we stop flying to China we can still bring passengers from Korea, the Philippines, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand and that originated from China. So the most important thing is to strengthen the passenger screening mechanism and follow the WHO procedures.’‘
Seventy percent of the Chinese passengers arriving Addis Ababa Bole International Airport transit to other African countries.
Tewolde says the airline has opted to follow the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommendations that emphasise screening, rather than travel restrictions.
“We should not isolate China. We should not marginalize Chinese passengers. What we should do is screen passengers in accordance with the WHO guidelines,” he added.
The Director General of the Ethiopian Public Health Institute Doctor Eba Abate also defended the airline’s decision, saying the coronavirus cases reported in the five cities that Ethiopian flies to is minimal.
According to Dr. Eba, body temperature of 47,167 passengers have been checked out of which 1,607 were from countries which reported cases of coronavirus. The institute is in the process to import the detergent used to test coronavirus.
‘Allow your citizens to return from China’
The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) is appealing to o African countries to allow their citizens return home from China.
Several countries including Uganda and Kenya have been officially rejecting calls fro evacuation from their citizens in China.
“For Africans who are returning from China, we have the obligation to receive our citizens and keep them for a while and monitor them and release them into the community because as of yesterday, we started receiving reports that some countries are refusing their own citizens from coming back to the country. It cannot happen,” Africa CDC director Dr. John Nkengasong said.
The centre says it has trained 15 African countries that were most at risk and they would be ready to screen for the coronavirus from Monday.
South Africa, Cameroon, Ghana, and Nigeria were already equipped with accurate testing systems for the coronavirus, according to the center which received $15 million to equip 15 countries that were most at risk, including countries that had direct flights to China.
January 7: Ethiopia to quarantine all Wuhan entrants
Ethiopia has announced that all passengers arriving from Wuhan will be quarantined as part of preventive measures against the coronavirus outbreak.
The Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI) announced the decision which will affect all passengers arriving at Bole International Airport.
Ethiopia’s 11 suspected cases so far has seen eight declared negative. The remaining three are to be sent to South Africa for further examination, the institute further disclosed.
The Cameroonian embassy in Beijing has also released a statement to citizens of the Central African country praising the Chinese government and advising nationals on what steps to take. “Since it’s outbreak, the government and people of China have been waging and unprecedented and impressive combat against the epidemic.
“These efforts have been highly lauded by some of the most authoritative voices in the world in the field of health sciences,” the statement read in part. The only African known to have contracted the virus is a 21-year-old Cameroonian student in China.
January 6: Ghana report negative in two suspected cases
Authorities in Ghana have reported that negative outcome to the two suspected cases referred to the main hospital, the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital as at today, February 6.
The cases involved a Chinese and an Argentine who had been staying together in the capital Accra for some days now. They reported to Korle Bu on Wednesday evening with symptoms suspected to be similar to the virus, state-run Daily Graphic said in a report.
The Director of Medical Affairs at the Korle Bu, Dr Ali Samba, had earlier confirmed to a local radio station that blood samples of the two men have been taken to the Noguchi Medical Research Institute for testing.
Ghana joins a number of African countries that have recorded suspected cases, amongst others Ethiopia, Kenya, Botswana and Namibia.
Meanwhile Ethiopian Airlines says it will not suspend flights to and from China over the coronavirus outbreak. Its CEO in an interview with state-run FBC said a suspension of flights won’t mean the virus cannot reach Africa and also that per WHO advice, it was safe to continue operating taking into consideration relevant health screening procedures.
Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta is however urging Ethiopian to halt China flights over the virus. Speaking in the United States he said: “Our worry as a country is not that China cannot manage the disease. Our biggest worry is diseases coming into areas with weaker health systems like ours.”
Over a half dozen African fliers including Kenyan Airways have suspended flights to and from China till further notice. A number of global fliers have also gone down that road.
January 5: African quartet report negative cases, Equatorial Guinea donates to China, massive quarantine underway
Four African countries have reported negative outcome to tests conducted on suspected cases of the coronavirus. They are Kenya (seven cases overall), Ethiopia (three cases), Botswana (five cases) and Namibia with one case.
Over in Uganda, reports indicate that over 100 people have been quarantined after returning to the country from China. The group which includes 44 Chinese are being held at a facility over the quarantine period.
The number is up to over 500 in the case of Zimbabwe, the East African news portal reported. Health Minister Obadian Moyo is reported to have said people who recently returned from worse hit areas in China had been asked to self quarantine for two weeks and are restricted from public gatherings.
Information Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa, added that surveillance will be ramped up at all entry points and that isolation and quarantine units have been opened in the capital Harare, Bulawayo and Victoria Falls.
January 5: Kenya to repatriate citizens
Authorities in Kenya are prepared to evacuate their citizens from China, where the Coronvirus outbreak has claimed over 400 people.
The country’s health administrative secretary Dr Mercy Mwangangi told lawmakers there are plans to evacuate 85 students who are stranded in China’s Wuhan city, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is in constant communication with the 85 Kenyan students,” Mwangangi told the MPs, adding that evacuations will be done once China lifts the lockdown in the city.
“We have identified two holding rooms at JKIA [Kenya’s main international airport] and set up isolation facility at the Kenyatta Hospital. Additional satellite isolation facilities have been earmarked for Nairobi county,” she added.
It is not clear how long the Wuhan lockdown will last, but several countries have been evacuating their citizens from the city. Egypt and Morocco are among African countries that have already evacuated their citizens.
February 4, 2020: Chinese embassy in Kenya issues ‘orders’
Kenya says there are three cases that are being dealt with as at Monday (February 3) – one in Nairobi and the others in Mombasa. The Health Ministry also stressed that four earlier cases had turned out negative.
Meanwhile, the Chinese Embassy in Kenya has issued a directive for employers who are expecting the return of workers from the holiday break.
The statement whiles stressing the WHO position of a travel ban being needless said “…all Chinese companies in Kenya to quarantine their employees returning from China for 14 days no matter they have symptoms or not.
“To date there is no suspected case of novel coronavirus among Chinese nationals in Kenya,” it clarified stressing that China was undertaking equally stringent measures for nationals leaving the territory.
Meanwhile, while citizens of several African countries caught up in Wuhan, the virus epicenter, call for evacuation, Senegal says it does not have the capacity so to do.
President Macky Sall in an address confirmed that there are about a dozen Senegalese in Wuhan and that the government was in contact with them and providing them necessary assistance.
February 3, 2020: Cameroonian student infected after Wuhan visit
The first African known to have contracted the deadly coronavirus is a Cameroonian student in China. The university where he studies confirmed the situation in a statement. According to Yangtze University, the 21-year-old was being treated in hospital in southern Jingzhou city.
The statement said he had gotten the disease whiles visiting the city of Wuhan in China’s Hubei province. Wuhan is the epicentre of the outbreak which has affected thousands within and outside China so far.
From Wuhan, he returned to his place of residence in Jingzhou, on 19 January, before a lockdown was imposed in Wuhan to prevent the spread of the plague. So far the death toll is over 200 people. The first death outside China was recorded over the weekend in the Philippines.
February 2 – 3, 2020: Kenya, Ethiopia cases, Air Tanzania suspends flights
As at February 3, three African countries reported that they were investigation suspected cases of coronavirus. Kenya, Ethiopia and Botswana reported three, four, five cases respectively.
Ethiopia last week recorded negative for three suspected cases, same with Kenya’s first suspected case. Botswana’s one case as at last week rose to five in a statement by the Health Ministry on Sunday.
The only other African country to declare a suspected case negative is Ivory Coast. Meanwhile countries continue to undertake efforts to secure their entry points from possible importation of the virus.
Air Tanzania has also joined the African fliers that have suspended scheduled flights to China over the outbreak. Meanwhile, Ethiopia’s decision to continue flights to and from China has received heavy backlash.
“Nigeria stands with the Government and people of China in this trying time, as they work hard to contain the spread of the Coronavirus. We wish them the very best, and have no doubt that this challenge will be fully overcome,” this was part of Nigerian president’s goodwill message to China.
February 1, 2020: Kenya, Botswana cases, Nigeria ready
Authorities in Kenya have reported a new suspected case of coronavirus after its first case turned negative earlier this week. The said patient arrived in Kenya on December 30 and is currently in isolation.
Over in Nigeria, the Heath Minister, Osagie Ehanire, at a meeting in Abuja over the coronavirus said the country had the capacity to detect, assess and respond in case the virus finds its way into the country.
“While the risk of importation exists, we can assure Nigerians of the nation’s capacity to detect, assess and respond to this and any other public health threats at the point of entry.”
He also said the federal government had voted funds to increase services of the ministry’s Port Health Services Unit. He disclosed that government was in touch with 16 Nigerians in Wuhan, the epicenter of the epidemic in China’s Hubei province.
January 31, 2020: African airlines suspend flights to China
Kenya’s national carrier on Friday suspended all flights to and from China, as a precautionary measure against the spread of coronavirus.
Kenya Airways says it is working with the country’s health and foreign ministries to determine the length of the suspension.
RwandAir, Air Madagascar, Air Mauritus and Royal Air Maroc have also suspended flights to mainland China, where the coronavirus has killed over 200 people. These airlines said the suspensions are indefinite and offered re-funds or re-routes to passengers who had booked flights to China.
On the other hand, Africa’s largest aviation operator, Ethiopian Airlines on Thursday said it would continue to operate all its flights to China, adding that it was working with relevant authorities to “protect its passengers and crew” from the virus.READ MORE: Ethiopian undertaking all China flights, Nigeria issues advisory
January 30, 2020: Ethiopia suspected cases test negative
Ethiopia’s health authorities on Thursday said the four citizens who had been isolated on suspicions of having contracted the coronavirus tested negative.
The ministry said the blood samples of the four were sent to a laboratory in South Africa for further investigation on Tuesday, and still came back negative.
There are no confirmed cases of the coronavirus on the African continent. Earlier, the suspected case in Ivory Coast also tested negative.
January 30, 2020: Ethiopian Airlines mantains flights
Ethiopian Airlines on Thursday issued a statement refuting media reports that it had it had joined a growing list of global carriers suspending flights to China.
“We are operating our regular flights to all of our 5 gateways in China, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu and Hong Kong with the usual supply and demand adjustment that we always make during the Chinese New Year Holidays,” the statement read in part.
Ivory Coast suspected case tests negative
Ivory Coast’s health ministry on Wednesday said the suspected case of coronavirus in the country had tested negative.
A student who had travelled from Beijing to Abidjan over the weekend had shown flu-like symptoms, ‘coughing, sneezing and experienced difficulty breathing’.
In a statement, the Ivorian health ministry said that tests by research institutes in Ivory Coast and France had come back negative for the virus.
According to the ministry, the 34-year-old student who was quarantined while tests were carried out is being treated for her symptoms and is recovering well.
If the results had been positive, this would have been the first confirmed case in Africa.
January 28,2020: Mozambique suspends visas
Mozambique’s cabinet on Tuesday decided to temporarily suspend the issuance of visas on arrival for travelers from China, as one of the measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, it is not yet clear whether the government will evacuate its students studying in China, who have requested to be taken from the country until the virus outbreak is controlled.
Kenya’s ambassador to China Sarah Serem on Wednesday said the government of the East African nation would not be evacuating its citizens from the Chinese city of Wuhan.
‘’“The option for evacuation should not be an immediate concern for now,“Serem, who is back in Kenya said, adding that the Chinese were in a better position to deal with the virus.
January 28,2020: Ethiopia confirms four possible cases
Ethiopia’s state-affiliated FANA broadcasting corporate, FBC, reported that four Ethiopians suspected of being infected by coronavirus has been placed in isolation, said the Ministry of Health.
“The students arrived in Ethiopia from a university in Wuhan, Chain’s worst-affected city by the disease,” the report added.
January 28,2020: Kenya rushes suspected case to hospital
Kenya Airways on Tuesday confirmed that one of its passengers who had travelled from the Chinese city of Wuhan to Nairobi had presented coronavirus-like symptoms and was rushed to hospital on arrival at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
‘‘Kenya Airways confirms that a passenger who travelled on our flight KQ886 from Guangzhou to Nairobi on 28 January 2020 has, as a precautionary measure, been quarantined at the Kenyatta National Hospital,” KQ said in a statement.
The county’s health ministry said it was investigating the suspected case at the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) isolation ward.
‘‘He was brought by the airport surveillance ambulance and is currently going through tests to rule out or confirm if he indeed has the disease,’‘ KNH Communications manager Hezekiel Gikambi told a local newspaper.
The Daily Nation added that KQ’s crew had isolated the passenger during the flight and provided him with a face mask, as per ICAO protocols.
January 27,2020: Ivory Coast tests suspect
Ivory Coast on Monday became the first African country to test a suspected Coronavirus case, when a female student arrived at an airport in the capital with suspicious symptoms.*
‘‘The 34-year-old student traveled from Beijing to the Félix-Houphouët-Boigny International Airport in Abidjan on Saturday and was coughing, sneezing and experienced difficulty breathing,’‘ Ivory Coast’s Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene said in statement.
This effectively becomes the first case of testing for the virus on the African continent, even as Chinese authorities announced on Tuesday that its death toll had surpassed 100 from over 4,000 cases reported.
Authorities in Ivory Coast moved the student to a safe location where she is currently being monitored. The health says it is highly likely a case of pneumonia and not coronavirus, but the final diagnosis will be made after the analysis of the results of the test.