The coronavirus was confirmed in the Chinese city 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.
- 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
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 hasreceived 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.
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.