African countries step up screenings amid China coronavirus outbreak

A number of African countries have introduced airport screenings and other precautionary measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus that has infected hundreds in China.

The disease has also reached several other countries.

China has been expanding its influence in Africa for years and the continent is a destination for Chinese business people and tourists alike.

Congo is implementing measures at its airports and seaports, targeting people coming from “affected countries and continents’’, the central African country’s Health Minister said on Thursday.

“The DRC does not know this virus but we are taking steps so that no case appears here,’’ Eteni Longondo said.

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The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control said on Wednesday that it “has heightened screening measures’’ at its points of entry and that travellers from Wuhan, the capital city of Hubei province in China, may be asked questions about “symptoms of illness and travel history’’.

In nearby Ghana, there was also enhanced surveillance at all entry points, especially the Kotoka International Airport.

Passengers from China will be administered a health questionnaire, its Ministry of Health said on Tuesday.

Zimbabwe Health Minister, Obadiah Moyo, said that his southern African country is “on high alerts, like the rest of the world’’.

“We have not started screenings, but we are urging our citizens, who have been to China recently, to go for medical check-ups,’’ Moyo said on Thursday.

South Africa is “conducting active surveillance’’, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases said on Tuesday, while also noting that there are no direct flights from Wuhan and that “the risk of an imported case remains low’’.

Egypt’s Cairo airport started screening passengers arriving from China for signs of the new coronavirus outbreak, airport sources said on Thursday.

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There are doctors and health monitors in arrival halls equipped with medical devices needed to examine passengers coming from China, the sources said.

Flight attendants have also been instructed to report any coronavirus suspected cases among travellers and any suspected cases would be isolated and sent to the hospital, the sources added.

All airports in Egypt are on high alert and have received the same instructions, but most of the flights coming from China arrive in Cairo airport, the sources said.



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