Experts warned African countries to guard against xenophobic as the continent has beefed up precautions on COVID-19.
The epidemic has spread to seven countries in the African continent on Thursday, namely Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Tunisia and South Africa. No casualty has been reported so far. Mutahi Kagwe, Cabinet Secretary of Kenya’s Ministry of Health, said there have been incidences where locals have been mistreating guests from other countries due to racial profiling. “We are appealing to our citizens not to discriminate against nationals of other countries.
Lets us not abuse our guests, and we should behave with kindness that we have always done towards foreigners,” Kagwe said. The government has also enhanced surveillance of the virus at all points of entry beyond the international airports.
The Kenyan government on Thursday set up an isolation and treatment center for suspected cases of the COVID-19 at the coastal city of Mombasa, following a directive by President Uhuru Kenyatta for isolation and treatment facilities to be set up in all hospitals across the country by March 15. Hazel Katana, Mombasa county Executive Committee Member, said center at the Coast General Teaching and Referral Hospital (CGTRH) will be used to quarantine suspected COVID-19 cases and isolate confirmed ones.
Katana added that plans were underway to set up other isolation facilities in several public hospitals within the county, with trained doctors and nurses on infection prevention control and hospital case management being assigned in the isolation centers. Kagwe said Kenya will also coordinate its response activities with its neighbors particularly those in the East African Community bloc in order to address the threat posed by the virus.
Ethiopia, Africa’s second populous nation with an estimated population of over 107 million, intensified its efforts to contain possible COVID-19 outbreak in partnership with the World Health Organization, with particular emphasis on the country’s four international airports and 21 land border crossing points.
Stating that no single country or institution can do alone in dealing with the issues, Tajudeen Raji, head of Public Health Institutes and Research with the African Union Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), said there should be strong communication, collaboration, and coordination among countries and different concerned bodies to be better prepared and properly respond to the disease.
According to the African Union (AU), in a bid to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak on the continent, African countries had endorsed a continent-wide strategy to be implemented by the Africa Task Force on Coronavirus, a joint partnership between Africa CDC and the AU member states. AU said on Wednesday as the epidemic evolves, it is likely that more member states will detect cases and that, eventually, there will be widespread transmission of COVID-19. The most recent confirmed patient appeared on Thursday in South Africa who is a 38-year-old male who traveled to Italy with his wife and returned in South Africa on March 1. Nigerian recorded its first confirmed case last Friday.
The virus was brought into the country by an Italian citizen who entered Nigeria from Milan, Italy for a brief business visit. Senegalese Ministry of Health and Social Action has confirmed four cases as of Wednesday, all foreign nationals.