African nations close borders, cancel flights to contain coronavirus spread

Reuters , Sunday 15 Mar 2020

Several African countries on Sunday closed borders, canceled flights and imposed strict entry and quarantine requirements to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, which has a foothold in 26 nations on the continent as cases keep rising.

“The government is suspending travel for all persons coming into Kenya from any country with reported coronavirus cases ... only Kenyan citizens, and any foreigners with valid residence permits will be allowed to come in provided they proceed on self quarantine,” President Uhuru Kenyatta told the nation in a televised address.

Anyone entering Kenya in the last 14 days should self-quarantine, he said. The ban would take effect within 48 hours and remain in place for at least 30 days, he said.

Schools should close immediately and universities by the end of the week, he said. Citizens would be encouraged to make cashless transactions to cut the risk of handling contaminated money, he said.

In west Africa, Ghana will from Tuesday ban entry to anyone who has been to a country with more than 200 cases in the last 14 days, unless they are an official resident or a Ghanaian national.

In southern Africa, Namibia ordered schools to close for a month following two confirmed cases of coronavirus announced on Saturday.

Other nations have also shuttered schools, canceled religious festivals and sporting events to minimize the risk of coronavirus transmission. Some 156,500 people worldwide have been infected and almost 6,000 have died.

Kenya and Ethiopia have now recorded three and four cases respectively, authorities in each nation said on Sunday, two days after they both reported their first case. All the new cases were discovered through tracing the contacts of the first case in each country, authorities said.

Djibouti, which has no confirmed case of COVID-19, announced on Sunday it is suspending all international flights. Tanzania, which also has no cases yet, canceled flights to India and suspended school games.

As of Sunday, cases have been reported in Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, Senegal, Togo, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Sudan, Kenya, Ethiopia, Mauritania, Rwanda, Seychelles, eSwatini, Namibia, Central African Republic, Congo Brazzaville and Equatorial Guinea.

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