Africa on high alert over spread of coronavirus: AU

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The African Union says the continent is on high alert over the spread of the coronavirus that has been reported in Asia. The Africa Centre for Disease Control is asking countries in the continent to start applying preventive measures.

The coronavirus has claimed the lives of at least 20 people and infected more than 800 within China alone. It is also spreading to neighbouring countries.

The Director of the African Centre for Disease Control, Dr John Nkengasong, says this is not the time to panic, but to put public health measures in place.

“It is important to know that we are not an island, that there many flights that leave Ethiopia, South Africa, Egypt and Morocco to China. The traffic between China and Africa in terms of people and air traffic has increased a lot over the last couple of years. This is not the time to panic; it is the time to put in public health measures in place, infection controls that people should wash hands, if they feel sick they should stay home, if you come down with a common cold, it’s better to stay away from a mass gathering. So I think this is a time for everybody to exercise self-discipline so that we can protect not only one’s family but the general population as a whole,” says Dr Nkengasong.

Uganda has started screening travellers from China to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Uganda is China’s key trading partner in the east Africa region.

Uganda’s Health Minister Jane Aceng says their airports have thermal scanners for the purpose of screening.

“The good news is that our airport, because of the various outbreaks that we’ve been having, already has thermal scanners in place for purposes of screening. Of course, it is important that we give a travel advisory to Ugandans traveling to China and particularly to Wuhan city in China. This travel advisory will be issued shortly.” Additional reporting by Hillary Ayesiga.