Coronavirus: Is Africa Ready for outbreak?

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[Juba, South Sudan, TCT] As recently as early February, the online community was treated to some odd news, of airport staff workers fleeing the Juba International Airport. 

[Juba, South Sudan, TCT] As recently as early February, the online community was treated to some odd news, of airport staff workers fleeing the Juba International Airport. 

The story, still unverified, said that the staff were preparing to screen arrivals when they learned that an aircraft with Chinese diplomats had landed, heightening their fears that these passengers could be carrying the deadly Coronavirus.

 

As the world grapples with the flu like virus that has been recorded to have killed over 1000 in China. The question in many people’s minds here in Africa is whether the continent is ready to face the pandemic, if, God forbid, the disease is detected in the motherland.

 

In Nairobi, a student who had travelled back from Guanzhou was whisked from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to the country’s largest referral hospital, Kenyatta National Hospital, after showing flu-like symptoms on arriving in the country in early February. He was isolated at the hospital and later tested negative for the virus. The incident, which brought anxiety to Kenyans, was concluded without incident.

 

This is not the same case in some parts of Africa. An Associated Press report from Zambia indicated that efforts to curb any emergencies from the disease have not been taken into consideration. A doctor tending to those patients has stopped coming to work, and health workers have been ordered not to speak publicly about the new virus that has killed hundreds around the world, the report, appearing on NBC News website this week, indicated.

 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that it needs $675 million to ensure preparedness and response to the disease in countries considered particularly "at risk". The plan is expected to run between the months of February to April 2020.

 

Efforts to keep nationals of South Sudan safe from the virus are being beefed up as the country works to increase surveillance. The government said in media reports that they will add appropriate devices in two other locations to help beef up security in the country. A Chinese man who developed flu like symptoms after entering South Sudan from Xinjiang was kept in isolation until tests for the coronavirus returned negative, according to reports in The East African.

 

In January, Kenya Airways on the other hand, bowed to pressure and stopped flights into China.

 

"Further to our prior communication regarding the current coronavirus outbreak, we have temporarily suspended all flights starting January 31, 2020, until further notice," KQ said in a press statement on January 30.

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