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’s Africa emergency response program manager Michel Yao advised health ministers in the region to activate standard flu screening at airports for passengers coming from mainland China.
There is a considerable community of students in China from African countries, and a number of them have expressed their desire to return home as authorities struggle to contain the virus. Other countries across the world are considering the option of evacuating their citizens.
Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda among other countries have started implementing surveillance and screening at airports, especially for travelers arriving from Wuhan in China where the outbreak began in December.
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.
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.
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 case 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.