How Prepared Is Africa For An Outbreak Of Deadly Coronavirus?

How Prepared Is Africa For An Outbreak Of Deadly Coronavirus?

African countries introduced measures to prevent an outbreak of coronavirus after the World Health Organization declared an international health emergency. Passengers arriving on a China Southern Airlines flight from Changsha in China are screened for the new type of coronavirus upon their arrival at the Jomo Kenyatta international airport in Nairobi, Kenya Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020. Image: AP Photo/Patrick Ngugi

African countries are at risk of being affected by an outbreak of coronavirus on the continent due to their close links with China and weak healthcare systems.

The coronavirus, which first originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in 2019, has already killed more than 1,000 people in China and is spreading to countries all over the world.

African countries have introduced measures to prevent an outbreak of the virus in Africa after the World Health Organization’s declaration of a public health emergency of international concern.

There have not been any confirmed cases of the virus in Africa to date, however, some countries have reported suspected cases of the rapidly spreading disease.

Due to the deepening trade and travel ties between China and Africa, medical experts are certain that people in Africa will be infected by coronavirus.

“We can be very certain that coronavirus will be exported to Africa,” said Ngozi Erondu, associate fellow of the Global Health Program at Chatham House.

“There is a large amount of travel between China and Africa. Hubs such as Adis Ababa, Cairo, and Nairobi are at particular risks due to a large number of Chinese travelers that pass through these airports.”

Director of the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention, John Nkengasong, said the department was working very closely with their Chinese counterparts, adding that they are monitoring the situation and preparing to deal with any outbreak or individual cases.

The director-general of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Chikwe Ihekweazu said they learnt from the Ebola outbreak that killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa between 2014 and 2016.

South African minister of health, Zweli Mkhize, said temperature screenings using non-invasive thermometers would be conducted at all ports of entry. Health officials will also be going onboard international aircraft to determine any sick travelers.

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However, Tanzanian clinician Joachim Mabula said that airport screening is not fully dependable because people can have the disease and not show symptoms in the first days after becoming infected. The screening process involves looking for symptoms.

He suggested that countries cancel any flights to and from China.

African Carriers that have already canceled such flights include Kenya Airways, Rwanda Air, Egypt Air, Air Madagascar, Air Mauritius, and Royal Air Maroc.